MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- FINN ROCK: “This is a great opportunity for all of us to set aside our negativity, egos and our agendas to come together,” was the way McKenzie School Board member Debbie Peterson helped set the stage for last Wednesday’s monthly meeting. Board chairman Kent Roberts shared those sentiments by saying, “Change is good, can be good and should be good. I’d like to restore the ‘happy,’” he added, noting that, ”We haven’t been happy. It’s been a rough three or four years.”

Up for discussion were ways the school district might change in the future, following the decision of superintendent Dr. Sally Storm to resign and take another position. During the course of the evening board members looked at hiring either half or full time staff members as well as a consultant to conduct a search for a new top administrator.



Leading off the talks via a speakerphone from a California location was Elizabeth Carr, who was interested in hiring a part time superintendent plus a full time K-12 principal. “I want a superintendent to act as the CEO and give direction,” Carr said. “The full time principal would act as a manager.”

Arguing for full time at the top was board member Kathy Keable, who said her support stemmed from the number of duties and requirements connected with the position. “We don’t see all the details that happen,” Keable said. “Basically the buck stops with almost everything with the superintendent. It’s a larger job than most people realize.” She also felt, that if the money could found, both top posts should be full time.

Joining Keable was Kathleen Shelley. “It’s absolutely critical that we have a full time principal,” Shelley said. “If we can afford it I certainly support a full time superintendent. The duties are incredible and we need to meet state standards.”

Budgetary constraints seemed to be on the minds of other board members.

Peterson said she agreed that, “In our situation it’s critical for the staff to have that layer (two top administrators).” Under the current school district configuration, Storm filled both positions. “There have been some major, major issues because we did not have that,” she added.

Melissa Norlund said that since all superintendents go to the same meeting, districts with half time administrators might be able to share them.

When it came time to vote on changes to the administrative configuration, hiring a full time principal generated a unanimous vote by the board, after discussions among themselves.

A motion by Carr to hire a part time, interim superintendent failed to pass, in part due to how the term “interim” might limit their search for a replacement. Modified to the hiring of a “part time” administrator, the motion passed.

Once the topic shifted to how that selection process might be conducted, the board opened up the dialogue.

Neil Barrett spoke from the audience, saying that in his experience, hiring someone for just one year wasn’t long enough to, “Figure out if the configuration works. They’re still figuring out McKenzie.”

Lane Tompkins suggested that, “Whoever is in that position, we revisit the OSBA (Oregon School Boards Association) superintendent guidelines. They encourage a 360 degree review aspect,” he said, “that does allow a voice for everyone.”

Brenda Hamlow told the board she was supportive of them bringing in an outside consultant to conduct a superintendent search. “I’d like the board to concentrate on hiring all the teacher positions we’re going to have open and hire a specialist to do the search.”

Earlier, Roberts had said he felt that if the staff took on the search process it would create a “huge burden.” Keable felt the same way, saying, “It’s too late in the year to even think about doing it ourselves.”

District business manager, Wendy Whitson, pointed out that a search would require, “A lot of work, brochures and a massive advertising campaign. We don’t have the resources now to do our own,” she said.

At the last board meeting Michael Lasher of Northwest Leadership presented a proposal to do a superintendent search for $6,800. Whitson said it was all inclusive and included a guarantee. Another consultant, Gregg McKenzie had submitted a $7,500 bid without offering a guarantee or a full complement of services, although he’d been recommended by the school boards association.

When put to a vote, Northwest Leadership came out a winner.

People interested in listening to audio recordings of the meeting can access them via http://alturl.com/t3wvx.