'Critical decision'

Lyonel Tracy, the outgoing New Hampshire commissioner of education, met with members of the Board of Education last week to give some advice as the board moves forward with its search for a new superintendent.

“This is without a doubt the most critical decision you will ever make as a board,” said Tracy, who has served as a superintendent in Portsmouth and other communities.

Although there are fewer viable superintendent candidates than there once were, Tracy said, he told members of the board Wednesday night that Nashua should be considered an attractive position.

“If somebody wants to be a hardworking, smart superintendent, this is one that would be attractive to them,” he said.

Tracy encouraged the board to review every application and to make sure they don’t feel like they’re settling for a particular candidate. Tracy said it’s important to involve the community by giving them an opportunity to meet the finalists in an open forum.

Tracy suggested final interviews with the board should be held behind closed doors. He said they might want to share personal information with the board that they don’t want made public.

“Even though you can’t ask certain questions, they’re not restricted on what they can share,” he said.

In North Andover, Mass., when Christopher Hottel was in the finalist stage, his interview and other finalist interviews with the board were held in public and broadcast on public access television.

The board approved an advertisement for the position at the meeting, but has yet to come to consensus on what process to use.