I think it’s important for the public to know the reasons why our board members make the decisions they do. So I have transcribed the portion of the November 24, 2014 school board meeting Agenda item 5.05 Superintendent Search. These are the comments by the board that concluded with their decision to cancel a full and open search for a superintendent position.
Sid Green 5.05 Superintendent Search. Sandy?
Sandy Moore Giggles (garbled) you were going to call on me. Like you were going to tell me before hand you were going to call on me. So
Sid Green Absolutely
Sandy Moore So! Superintendent Search. We had a very, I thought, informative (garbled – but she is speaking about the public forum for Superintendent Selection Process link can be found at bottom of this post). We had a lot of people show up at the auditorium of Colville High School and share their views about where we are with the superintendent search and where we should go. We got a lot of great input. We as a board have not had an opportunity to talk about it since that meeting and this is our first meeting since then and I would like to have this chance to talk among ourselves about where we think we should go from here.
The way I saw (garbled) at the meeting was that we had a series of options.
– One was to hire a search firm and do a national search.
– Another option would be to do a search without hiring a firm so that was another issue we covered.
– We could also offer Mr. Lewis a contract extension but continue to look for another superintendent as was suggested by one member of the audience.
– We could offer Mr. Lewis a new contract for less than three years to give us more opportunity to evaluate where we are
– Or we could offer a full contract.
So I see that as kind of a measure of options out there on the table. I’d be interested in hearing input. I certainly have my own opinion, but I’ll open it up for discussion first.
Sid Green Rob?
Rob Sumner Yeah, I thought the meeting went as expected from the input that I get from people. Pete has done a fantastic job in the last five, six months in trying to galvanize the community with his vision and the vision that has been directed to him from the board. I felt that there was overwhelming support for Pete as an administrator and a leader of the district from multiple individuals, multiple community members, multiple businesses that took the time out of their day to come to the meeting and express their support of Pete.
I didn’t say anything at that meeting because I felt that that was for the public, but what I heard a lot was about the money ten thousand, ten thousand. For me it’s important that the superintendent we pick is an individual that has all the attributes we are looking for. And that’s what the community deserves. The money of $10,000, by not having the right person as superintendent, it cost you way more than that by the decisions that they make and the way they move the district. So for me it’s not so much about the ten thousand and doing the search, it’s more about the correct person.
So for me personally, from hearing from the community as well as my experience with Pete. Pete is that person for us. He has done everything that we’ve expected him to do and want. He came in here on quick notice and galvanized administrators, galvanized teachers, para pro’s. Every entity within our district. On top of that, he also galvanized the community as you can see from the meeting.
For me, Pete is doing exactly what we need, and that’s not only what I hear from people, it’s what I see. Pete’s a hard worker, he puts in his time. He’s here very early in the morning, he’s here late. He’s seen at community events. He’s visual. Pete’s an individual that’s not afraid to meet with anyone. There’s been ten plus people that I’ve constantly said, “Heather, will you set up a meeting with this …” They come to me and say I want to meet Mr. Lewis. That hasn’t been an issue.
So when you go around the board from professionalism, communication, knowledge, I mean, we listen to Kevin Mahugh, Kris McKellar, a lot of individuals that are within the school that are entrenched within the whole school. They talk about how much this gentleman knows. It’s not, it’s not fake. It’s not just the board trying to push a person in there because we selected him originally. This is an individual that knows how to lead. Knows how to run schools. He knows how to handle the budget. He knows how to communicate effectively. He knows how to make difficult decisions.
For me it’s not just that Pete does whatever people tell him to do, and that’s what makes them happy. Pete and I have had arguments – civil arguments.
Pete and I have had disagreements. We haven’t always seen eye to eye on everything that we’re doing. And what I appreciate about Pete is that he’s willing to listen to what I have to say, take it in and it’s not offensive to him, it’s not personal to him. He takes it, we move on, we make decisions, and then we do the next thing.
I believe Pete’s the right person for us. Pete wants to be here. He’s a 5A superintendent in a 2A school, and to me that excites me. It excites me, I have two kids coming up. I’ve coached a lot of teams, I coach a lot of my kids teams. It excites me to know that we can have stability with a guy that knows what he’s doing, he communicates well, he’s professional, he’s hardworking. He’s what Colville deserves, he’s what Colville expects to have. It excites me to have him here. That’s my take on it.
Sid Green Sarah? You can just agree.
Sarah Newman I do, and I just would like to add another little tid bit. Another thing that I’ve seen with Pete is that he has – there seems to be a rejuvenation, more – that’s probably not the right word – some of the staff have become – this is like what they want to do. They are very excited. They’re much – they are happy to be in their job and they are looking forward to another year, and I’m still hearing that. Not just from that first day’s meeting (garbled).
Sid Green For me it comes down to, we can go and do a huge search. We can find somebody that interviews just perfectly well. And then we hire them and then five months later we find out that he interviews really well but that’s where it ends. But in the mean time, they are going to want a three year contract to move here to Colville, and we are stuck again. I do not want to be stuck again. Pete’s been here for five – four to five months and he’s shown us what he can do, so I think we just need to do away with the superintendent’s contract and move on – or the superintendent’s search and move on. Krista?
Krista Ohrtman I really feel the tension in this decision because I want to – I want us to be a board of integrity and so I feel that tension of ‘this is the thing we said we were going to do, so – However, what I felt was missing for us in making this decision before was some other (garbled). Because I agree, he is doing a really good job. We’ve had a chance to sort of test drive him –
I feel like I’m – Hey Pete what’s up!
I feel like there’s a lot of – I hear tons of positive comments from lots of people, but I have that feeling of, this is a change from what we had planned. And so I really appreciated all the people who came to our public meeting and gave us some more feedback so that we could hear some more voices. Because I’m fully ok with investing in the process if that’s what the community wants us to do.
I think most of the comments that we heard at the public meeting – most of the people who spoke understood that tension. And so yes, we see both sides of the issue, there was a lot of really intelligent comments made, but I also think that the feedback from the folks who were there who took time out of their time – took time out of their evening to join us was supportive of the feelings that we have (garbled). I feel comfortable with changing our plan that we originally had due to the fact that (garbled) standing by the search process that we did when we hired the interim superintendent. And I don’t – I want – I don’t want to down play that entirely.
We had the job that was wide open to anyone who wanted to apply, we had multiple applicants, we interviewed them, we weighed them against the qualifications we were looking for. We got really lucky that we got someone really good was available right at the time we were looking for someone. And it was a less expensive search, but it was a search. And I feel – I feel comfortable with the decision to save the money we would have spent on a consultant or something else.
Sandy Moore Very well said everyone and I agree with all the comments so far. I guess I would only add to that, that I share the concern about getting public input, and it is unfortunate that (garbled) as such that we couldn’t have had, for example, a community adviser on our search. That would have been nice – a nice position to have. But the public meeting process that we went through a week or two was (garbled) – It was an opportunity for (garbled). It was a time when people in our community came forward in large numbers and told us exactly what they thought.
As Krista said, if they had come in large numbers and said, “We want to hold you to your promise, we want you to do a full search, it’s important to us, we would have done it. But that’s not what I heard. I listened to a lot of people that night and what I heard was you guys would be crazy to potentially lose this great person we have right now just to go through the motions of a search. He’s great, he’s doing a wonderful job. People are extremely happy, what are you thinking!? (garbled) And that was what I heard not only at the meeting, but also in many many emails and phone calls I got before and after the meeting (garbled 40.30)
And a person (garbled) said I understand people want to hold you to your promise but you’ve got something too good to lose here and you’d be crazy – you’d be crazy to squander it or risk squandering it. So I feel pretty comfortable that we went out to the community and reached out in every way we could possibly think of to get a big turnout that evening. And we did get a big turnout. And of course, not everybody obviously agreed, but certainly the vast majority of people there shared the same view (garbled). I don’t feel like I can just ignore that sort of input from the public. I mean they have spoken what they think we should do.
And it’s in agreement with all of us believe is the right thing to do for the district and students, and therefore I think its pretty (garbled).
Sid Green Ok, I need a motion.
Rob Sumner I move not to proceed with the search
Sid Green It’s been moved and seconded that we do not proceed with the superintendent search. All those in favor say aye.
Board In Unison Aye
Sid Green Opposed?
Sid Green Motion Carries
Superintendent Search/Community Forum Transcripts November 12, 2014 https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/superintendent-searchcommunity-forum-transcripts-november-12-2014/
Community Forum – Common Themes and Questions https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/community-forum-common-themes-and-questions/
Questionable Interim Superintendent Hiring https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/questionable-interim-superintendent-hiring/
Documentation for Interim Superintendent Hiring https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/documentation-for-questionable-interim-superintendent-hiring/