Nashua relying on retired principals

NASHUA – The Nashua School District is looking to temporarily fill the five open assistant principal positions with recently retired principals.

Pennichuck and Fairgrounds Middle schools, as well as Bicentennial, Birch Hill and Fairgrounds Elementary schools, have been without assistant principals since school started on Aug. 28, and the positions are not likely to be filled with permanent employees for several more weeks, according to Human Resources Director Dana O’Gara.

School officials are in the process of interviewing candidates for the positions, with the next round scheduled Sept. 17. They hope to have the new positions confirmed at the next full board meeting, set for Sept. 24.

Until then, according to O’Gara, “All five schools are struggling without assistant principals.”

The retired principals, all of whom have served at least 11 years in the school district, will essentially be “substitutes,” and all except four will be considered part-time.

New Hampshire retirees are required by state law not to exceed 32 hours of work per week. The fifth principal is from Massachusetts, which does not have the same restrictions on retirees’ working hours.

Superintendent Jahmal Mosley requested and was granted a waiver from the Board of Education during the Monday Human Resources Committee session to allow one of the principals to fill in, even though she has been retired from the district for less than one year. Currently, board policy states that recent retirees who have been such for less than one year cannot immediately be hired in the district. He called the principal an “excellent” candidate, but none of the five have officially been announced.

“We are trying to do the best we can,” Mosley said, adding that the former principals have been in the schools and are known in Nashua and that he appreciated them stepping in to help the district.

Board President Dotty Oden said she recognized how important it is for “administration to be in the schools” during the first few weeks.

Board member Howard Coffman spoke of the seemingly high turnover rate for assistant principals in the district. He said of the 42 assistant principals, 11, more than 25 percent either resigned, retired, or transferred within the district.

O’Gara suggested that some of those numbers did not reflect a high “turnover” rate, as having an employee retire or transfer within the district does not count in the same way as a resignation.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.