Now's city's chance to get to know the finalists

NASHUA – The four finalists for the superintendent position will be meeting with members of the Board of Education, students, staff and the public this week.

The finalists, whose names were announced last month, will meet with members of the board Tuesday and Wednesday for interviews.

On Thursday, the finalists will spend the day touring the city, meeting with school staff and students, with a community forum planned for the evening. The forum was originally scheduled for May 18, but was moved up.

The forum will be open to the public and people will have the opportunity to ask questions. The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the media center at Nashua High School South. It is expected to last an hour and be televised on Channel 99.

The finalists for superintendent are:

Brian Cochrane, director of accountability and assessment for the Nashua School District. Cochrane, who lives in Goffstown, has worked in Nashua for two years. He worked for Southern New Hampshire University before that.

Mark Conrad, chief financial officer for the Bedford School District. Conrad lives in Nashua and worked as the business administrator for 10 years before leaving in 2006.

Kathleen Murphy, director of the division instruction for the New Hampshire Department of Education. Murphy previously worked as superintendent of the Newmarket School District. She also worked as an instructional supervisor for the Nashua School District from 2002-03.

Robert Reidy, superintendent of the Mahopac (N.Y.) Central School District, a 5,000-student district located 50 miles north of New York City.

The next superintendent will replace Christopher Hottel, who is leaving this summer to take over the North Andover, Mass., school district. Hottel is staying on until July 1.

The Board of Education has already established a salary range of $135,000 to $150,000. Hottel is making $150,000 this year.

There is still some question over whether the interviews with the Board of Education next week will be conducted in open session, or if the public will be barred.

Board member Charlie Katsohis, chairman of the search committee, said he thought that the interviews should be closed.

The board is asking all the finalists the same questions, he said. Because two finalists are being interviewed the first night, followed by the other two the next night, Katsohis said if they were open, the two finalists going last would have an advantage.

“I see it being entirely closed,” he said.

To close the meeting, the board would have to go into nonpublic session under one of the exemptions allowed under the state’s Right-to-Know law.

Katsohis said the board hasn’t made a final decision on whether to keep them closed. That will likely be discussed at a meeting Monday night, he said.

The interviews will be held at the district’s central office on Ledge Street. Cochrane and Conrad will go Tuesday night, starting at 5 p.m., with Reidy and Murphy following the second night.

On Thursday, all four finalists will start the day meeting with central office staff. They will then travel to Nashua North to meet with staff and students, then to Nashua South for the rest of the day’s meetings.

A final decision on the next superintendent is tentatively scheduled for May 26.