Board schedules meeting to discuss new schools chief

NASHUA – Less than a week after Superintendent Christopher Hottel’s departure became official, the school board has scheduled a meeting to discuss the search for his replacement.

A special meeting to discuss the superintendent search is scheduled for Wednesday night at the administrative offices at 141 Ledge St.

The meeting will start immediately after discipline hearings, which are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. There will be a period for public comment at the meeting.

Hottel, 62, accepted the superintendent position in North Andover, Mass., on Thursday. The same day, he submitted his resignation to Tom Vaughan, president of the school board, effective June 30.

“I take this step with great regret, as the staff, students and board members in the Nashua School District have been the most dedicated group I have ever worked with,” Hottel wrote in his resignation letter.

Hottel starts in North Andover on July 1.

Much of Monday night’s regularly scheduled school board meeting was focused on discussing the district’s strategic planning, but Vaughan took time at the start of the meeting to thank Hottel for his service to the district.

“You came in at a very, very difficult time, and have brought us into a time of relative stability,” he said.

One of the expected topics at Wednesday’s meeting will be the timeline and whether the board wants to try and find someone to start in July or hire an interim superintendent and allow more time for the search.

The board will also have to decide whether to hire a search firm, to what extent the public should be involved in the search and what the salary range for the position should be.

When Hottel was officially given the superintendent position in February 2007, there was no search conducted. He had already been working in the role of acting superintendent for eight months.

The last time the school board conducted a superintendent search was in 2005. The board hired Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, a firm based out of Chicago, to aid with the search.

The firm put together a “leadership profile,” interviewing members of the community about what qualities they wanted in a new superintendent. The search committee consisted entirely of school board members.

Interviews with the four finalists were conducted behind closed doors and included only members of the school board and two members of the board of aldermen.

Many other communities, including North Andover, have taken more open approaches, naming finalists and giving members of the community and district staff an opportunity to meet them and ask them questions.

In 2005, the entire superintendent search, which took roughly five and a half months, cost $35,000 and resulted in the board hiring Julia Earl. A year later, Earl was placed on paid administrative leave and was eventually bought out of her contract.