Board seeks interim superintendent
The search is on for an interim superintendent for De Soto’s USD 232.
The district’s Board of Education on Monday unanimously accepted a motion to enter contract negotiations for an interim superintendent with board members Don Clark, Bill Fletcher and Tim Blankenship present at negotiations.
No prospective interim superintendent was announced, but action at the end of Monday’s meeting indicated the board has someone in mind for the job.
Earlier in the meeting, the board discussed possible means of finding a superintendent, including the use of individual or national search companies.
Current superintendent Sharon Zoellner resigned April 24. Later that same day Zoellner was hired as superintendent for Louisburg USD 416.
The board weighed the pros and cons of hiring an interim superintendent while searching for Zoellner’s permanent replacement.
Jim Thomas, the only current board member to serve when the board searched for a new superintendent in 2003, offered his advice on conducting an internal and national search for a replacement.
In 2003 after two months of an internal search, the board promoted Zoellner from deputy superintendent to replace longtime superintendent Marilyn Layman.
Thomas said the board should discuss and think through all options, one being the hiring of an interim superintendent.
“If we could come up with a viable interim superintendent of someone that has experience that could sit for a finite amount of time like a year,” he said.
With the challenges the district has been having, it might be the right amount of time for things to cool down, he said.
Board member Janine Gracy said the idea of hiring an interim superintendent was compelling. However, with a number of administrative seats vacant how would the district handle hiring under an interim superintendent, Gracy asked.
“Does the interim hire them (administrators) then leave the real superintendent to work with them?” she asked.
Another option is to hire a national company to search for a superintendent, Fletcher said.
“A new superintendent has to bring in their people, and if we don’t give them that option it’s a terrible mistake, they have to work with them,” he said.
Larry Meyer, board president, said it was critical the district take its time and have involvement from teachers, administrators and patrons in the search.
Meyer, who lost re-election in April and will leave the board in July, said whether the district uses a firm or individual, the search should be thorough and must use the energy and time that is necessary to find a superintendent that has expertise and fits with the district.
Blankenship agreed that the board should take time to make a wise choice, as long as the right kind of interim could be found.
Clark suggested that De Soto business community should also be involved in the search.
Randy Johnson said in light of recent district changes, the new superintendent needed to be capable of gaining the trust and admiration of the entire staff.
Clark then made a motion to create an interim superintendent position. The board accepted the motion unanimously.
Clark made a motion to go into executive session for 20 minutes.
Upon return Clark made a motion to enter into contract negotiations for an interim superintendent.