Transparency Time

As part of its process for finding a replacement for Hampstead Middle School principal Patti Grassbaugh, who is retiring, the school district has invited its three finalists for the post to a public meeting with the community.

The names of the finalists were announced last week, and a public meeting is set for May 8, when each candidate will talk about themselves and their candidacy, and will then respond to questions from the audience. A “meet and greet” follows.

Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson is encouraging Hampstead residents to attend the forum, and to provide feedback via a special email account that will be established. The public forum will be televised and made available on Vimeo.

Kudos to the school district for involving the community in such a broad way, and for inviting participation. While school officials will make the ultimate selection, community input is being solicited in a meaningful way.

To a less extensive but still inclusive degree, Londonderry chose a new principal for North Elementary School recently, with input from parents and North faculty included. That’s become almost the norm of school hiring. Gone are the days when the superintendent alone, or working with the human resources director, chooses the candidate in a vacuum.

But in Derry, the candidates for Town Administrator may well be shrouded in secrecy. It’s started with a “confidentiality pledge” and expressed concern that Town Councilors might be tempted to release names.  Let’s hope that as the process continues and finalists are chosen, the public is invited in.  That didn’t happen in Londonderry when the current Town Manager was hired, but it’s time to start involving the public.

And while the Derry Council has yet to approve a community development post in this year’s budget, the Acting Town Administrator has someone in mind for the job and wants to talk to the Council about it in closed session. Someone in mind for a job that has yet to be approved and funded?

While the Acting Town Administrator acknowledged when questioned that the job would be posted internally and “probably advertised,” this is not the best situation for a Council where questions were already raised about a “favorite son” interested in the permanent administrator post.

Aren’t town jobs open to all qualified individuals?

We encourage Derry officials to make the hiring process for Town Administrator – and community development coordinator if such a position is approved – as transparent as possible. The emphasis on secrecy doesn’t contribute to that atmosphere. There’s more to an administrator than holding the line on expenses – there are checks and balances for that – and the voice of the people deserves to be heard, rather than roughly translated by the Council.

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