There are only two?


According to a local news story, a mere fifteen applications were received, of which ten were determined to be incomplete, three were adjudged to be “unqualified”” and just two were considered “qualified.”  Lacking a superintendent certification from the NH Dept. of Education was cited as a reason why at least one candidate didn’t meet the minimum requirements to become Manchester’s next superintendent. 

Vargas: Would not be qualified.

The reason why that  got my attention is because, by that logic, Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas would have failed to meet the minimum requirements to be Manchester’s superintendent.  A superintendent in Rochester, NY and very well qualified for the job, there’s no reason why he would have had a superintendent’s certificate from New Hampshire.  Obtaining the necessary credential was a simple formality.


  • But for the missing “super cert.,” were the candidates otherwise qualified? 
  • Would they have been able to obtain the necessary certificate, if chosen?

The district’s press release announcing the scant applicant pool stated that “Human Resources determined” the number of applications that were incomplete, qualified or not qualified.  It also said “The Special Committee on the Superintendent Search met…in a non-public session to open and review the applications.”


  • If Human Resources made the claimed determinations, how was that done if the committee met to “open and review the applications?”  (It would seem that Human Resources would have had to open and review the applications and present its findings to the committee if it was the entity that determined the number of incomplete, qualified and non-qualified applications.)
  • Do they mean interim HR Director Forrest Ransdell opened and reviewed the applications to determine their quality when they say “Human Resources?”  
    • If so, it should be noted that Ransdell, who does not meet the qualifications for the position he now holds, was appointed to the position by the same Jennifer Gillis who is currently the interim superintendent and an applicant.
    • It should also be noted that it is the WORST kept secret in the district that, if made superintendent, Gillis will name Ransdell to fill her position as assistant superintendent.  His nomination’s approval by the board will be but a formality.
    • If it wasn’t Ransdell, who was it and does it matter if they answer to him (Ransdell) who answers to her (Gillis)?

Gillis: Ally Forrest Ransdell screened applications

Clearly, there are reasons to question the review of any and applications by a biased source with questionable credentials.

Also, the committee has yet to release the names of the “qualified” individuals.  Why?  Is it because they’ve yet to determine if they’re “finalists” for the job?  If so, how will they determine that?

As a member of the search committee that found Dr. Vargas, I find the results of this search as appalling as I do unsurprising.  Our search fetched nearly forty (40) applications from across the state and nation, including internal candidates.  Working with our search consultants, who did the initial screening to determine which applications were complete and which applicants were qualified, we determined that fifteen (15)  met the qualifications.  Further vetting by the committee and its consultants led to our interviewing eight (8) candidates.  From there, we narrowed the field to three recommended candidates, who came from Pennsylvania, Indiana and New York State, and presented those to the board.

The current crop of candidates and their characterization by “Human Resources” is both appalling and unsurprising.  This was not a “national search.”  While we are waiting for the district to respond to our request to know where the job was actually posted, it really doesn’t matter.   Simply putting free want ads on Web sites all but says “ring leader for clown show wanted in Manchester, NH.”  It’s not a serious effort, which is underscored by the failure to work with any sort of search firm.  For all the bluster about “outreach,” our search cast a much wider and deeper community net, gaining input from significantly more people of all backgrounds and interests.  The paltry outreach numbers generated by the much ballyhooed NH Listens are pathetic and embarrassing; certainly not worth the $10,000 they were paid.

According to the committee (or is it Human Resources/Ransdell?) we’re left with two (2) “qualified” candidates, three (3) unqualified candidates and ten (10) incomplete applications.


If they’re really not just going through the motions to say they “looked” before coronating Gillis, then they should take a look at the fruits of their effort and conclude that maybe they need a broader, deeper, better group of candidates from which to choose our city’s next superintendent.  It’s not without precedent.  All of the finalists were rejected in the search prior to the one that hired Superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston.  That search committee may not have picked the right finalist but at least it recognized that the prior pool of finalists didn’t contain the right person to lead the district.

~Richard H. Girard

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