Saturday, September 15, 2007
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs School District officials said Friday they reached a verbal agreement with one of their candidates for interim superintendent.
"We have had correspondence back and forth, and I hear the person is going to send us a signed contract, so I can't say anything more," School Board President Denise Connelly said. "I think this person would send us the e-mail to say they faxed (the contract) when they did it."
The hire may not be legal, however, based on language in the Colorado Open Meetings Law. According to the law, the School Board must make the list of superintendent finalists public at least 14 days before making a hire. No prior offer of employment can be made, the law states.
The School Board named its three finalists late last week, and Connelly said the board began negotiating with its top choice Wednesday, less than one week after identifying the finalists. Neither Connelly nor School Board vice president Jeff Troeger could be reached for comment Friday afternoon about the potential legal issue.
The School Board and a committee of district stakeholders interviewed the three finalists Monday. On Wednesday, the School Board agreed in open session to offer a contract to one of the three.
"I'd not like to say until we get everything nailed down," Connelly said Wednesday when asked which candidate had been offered the position.
The three finalists are Dr. Sandra Smyser, a former superintendent of the Las Virgenes Unified School District in California; William Kennedy, a former superintendent in Norwich and Postdam, N.Y.; and Dr. William Harner, the regional superintendent for the school district of Philadelphia.
Kennedy lives in Steamboat Springs.
"We asked everybody if they could start by Oct. 1., so we expect the position filled soon : that all depends on if we can find some housing first," Connelly said. Smyser was a finalist in March for the Boulder Valley School District's superintendent position. Harner currently is a finalist for the Florida education commissioner's job, which oversees the state's $23 billion school system.
Connelly said all three candidates have indicated they would be interested in the permanent superintendent position, which could be filled in spring 2008.
The position was vacated Aug. 10 when the School Board voted to buy out the remaining two years of former superintendent Donna Howell's contract, paying Howell $270,000 in exchange for her immediate resignation.
Dale Mellor, the district's director of finance, has filled in as acting superintendent for the past five weeks.
"I will be extremely happy to get somebody else on to do this job," Mellor said Friday. "It has been a learning experience, that is for sure. I am working twice the hours and falling further behind. I'm finding it difficult to do the job I was hired to do. I was happy to do this job, but will be happy when we find someone else."
Mellor added that he has not heard any complaints from district staff about the lack of a superintendent.
"But my gut tells me they are ready for this to move forward and see what direction we will head," he said. "The job of the interim superintendent will lead us in a new direction, and that is something I haven't been able to do, because I haven't had the time."
After the buyout of Howell's contract, Connelly said the School Board's goal was to have an interim superintendent in place by Sept. 1.
"We are definitely anxious, but we did hear from principals that it was more important for them to take their time to get the right person and right fit. We also wanted to allow time for community input," she said.