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Dr. Charles “Phil” Littlefield 

Littlefield to stay on another year as SAU 15 Superintendent

HOOKSETT — The district’s top educator will stay on for another year after a search failed to produce a new candidate for the role.

Dr. Phil Littlefield, who initially was going to retire at the end of this school year, has agreed to stay on for an additional year, according to Kim Royer, SAU 15 School Board chair and member of the Candia School Board.

The SAU 15 board met on Saturday, where it offered and Littlefield accepted the one-year extension to his contract.

The SAU 15 board will meet again in February and May to discuss the next steps in the search for a new superintendent for the district. The school board, as well as district staff, are conducting the search.

Littlefield has served as head of the district for more than half a decade.

The job was posted late last year, with the first round of applications collected at the beginning of December.

On Jan. 12, about 100 residents from the district met with the three finalists chosen. The candidates had also gone through interviews with school boards before the meeting.

Dr. Robert Lister, a search consultant for the New Hampshire School Board Association, had also helped with screening the candidates.

“Overall, it was a very positive experience,” Royer said.

The three candidates were William Van Bennekum, the principal at Holderness Central School, where he’s been for the last decade; Christopher Pratt, the superintendent of Windham Southwest Supervisory Union in Vermont, where he’s been since 2014; and Christine “Chris” Martin, principal at Beech Street Community Elementary School in Manchester.

Royer said one of the main things the team is looking for in a qualified candidate is previous experience. She said there’s not a large pool of superintendents looking for a job.

“That’s one of the big challenges,” she said.

The chosen candidate would be responsible for about 2,300 students in the three different towns that make up the district: Auburn, Candia and Hooksett.

The towns, which have five schools in all, have students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Each town sends students to neighboring communities for high school.

Combined, the operating budget for all of the towns is about $57 million.

Royer said residents will be able to weigh in on the selection process.

“It’s very important for us to hear from the community,” she said.

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