School board to hire KSBA to assist in filling board vacancy, superintendent search

Published 6:20 pm Thursday, March 23, 2023

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Lincoln County Board of Education members voted to hire the Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) to assist with filling the board vacancy, and to help with the public perception that the decision has already been made.

The board also elected a new Chairman and Vice Chairman during last week’s special-called meeting.

Etta Meek was elected Chairman and Christine Killen was elected Vice Chairman, both for two-year terms.

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The board voted to declare a board member vacancy after formally accepting Bruce Smith’s resignation. Smith intends to apply for the superintendent position which will be open in July.

Current Superintendent Michael Rowe said he will not be seeking a renewal of his contract, which ends June 30.

Board Attorney Grant Chenoweth told board members the vacancy must be posted on the district website, as well as printed in The Interior Journal for two weeks.

Since there is more than a year remaining on Smith’s term, the board has to appoint an interim board member until November, when a special election can be held.

“So part of the advertisement will need to make that clear,” Chenoweth said. Chenoweth brought examples of advertisements for the board to review.

“Basically, you have 60 days, but anytime after the two-week advertisement you all are essentially in charge of, do you want to give a deadline for when applications have to be received. Do you want to go ahead and set a meeting date for when you would be reviewing applications and potentially interviewing people who have applied to be a part of the board…,” Chenoweth said.

“If you all decide either you don’t like who has applied or you’re split two-to-two, then if 60 days comes and goes then we just send a letter to the Commissioner and say ‘we didn’t pick anybody, it’s your turn to pick somebody,” he said.

The commissioner would then have 60 days to appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

Gloria Sneed said the Kentucky School Board Association would assist the board in filling the vacancy for $1,000.

“I just feel like the people think we already have somebody in mind, and already picked out, and if we do this outside agency then we’ll have a whole lot more confidence in a decision,” Sneed said.

“Where’d they get that idea?” Board member Marvin Wilson asked.

Sneed asked Tim Estes, a former educator and member of the public who was in attendance, how he thinks the public feels.

“Perception is out there that it doesn’t pass the ‘smell test’ if you know what I mean,” Estes said.

“Well there’s a lot that don’t pass the smell test here lately,” Wilson said.

Meek asked if KSBA would assist with the board vacancy, if the board chose another outside consultant to help with the superintendent search.

“I believe they will. It’s two separate services they offer,” Chenoweth said.

Chenoweth said either way it will end up with the board members in closed session talking about applicants and deciding who to interview or what process to use to make a final decision.

Wilson said he doesn’t have time.

“It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t know about the smell test. I work all the time and I don’t have time for all of this,” Wilson said.

Killen said it seemed like a pretty straight-forward process, unlike the superintendent search which has more requirements.

Chenoweth said he’s never been through a board vacancy using KSBA’s services but he doesn’t have any reason to advise against it.

“It’s available and it might be helpful, particularly if there’s any public perception, that the public would have more faith in the process if somebody neutral and separate from the district is holding your all’s hand through the process, I don’t have a reason to advise against it,” he said.

Chief Operations Officer Darren Yaden said it would be worth asking KSBA if there’s a discount for choosing their services for both the board vacancy and superintendent search.

The board voted unanimously to advertise the vacancy and give notice to the Secretary of State, the Lincoln County Clerk, the Commissioner of Education and KSBA.

Killen made a motion to select KSBA to assist with filling the board member vacancy.

The board voted unanimously to use KSBA in the process.

Since Rowe will not be seeking a renewal of his superintendent contract, the board moved forward with discussion on the process of selecting a new superintendent.

Chenoweth said the first step is to establish a screening committee.

A search committee, which has to be appointed within 30 days of declaring the superintendent vacancy, consists of two teachers, one classified employee, one parent, one principal, one minority member, and one school board member.

“I think you all received an email that the principal representative has been selected, I don’t know where the process is on classified employee, the two teachers or the parent representative,” Chenoweth said. “The board chair gets to appoint a board member to the screening committee.”

The board is not supposed to play any role in choosing or influencing who is chosen for the screening committee, he added.

“It’s really intended that that be the rest of the community, all those constituent groups are weighing in to give that voice and the board shouldn’t play a role. You all should just be sitting back waiting to hear the names of who has been selected to be an advisor to you all,” he said.

Chenoweth said there’s always a question about whether a school employee can be a parent member on the screening committee.

“The answer is yes,” he said. “There is always a question as to how broad is the definition of teacher. Does that really mean classroom teacher, contact with kids, or is it the broader statutory definition of everybody with an EPSB certification except for the superintendent? …Those are things that whoever is helping you from one of these agencies, they have lots of experience trying to put out those small fires and smooth those wrinkles.”

Sneed said she received two concerns.

“On the classified section, the bus drivers don’t usually do their emails, but I’m pretty confident our transportation director will contact them another way,” Sneed said. “On the parent, we have seven schools and four PTOs. Our second largest elementary school, Hustonville, doesn’t have a PTO. How are they going to be incorporated if it’s run through the PTO.”

Chenoweth said the statute was written with the assumption that every school has a PTO (parent-teacher organization).

“The most we can say is my hope, your all’s hope, everybody else’s hope…is that even if you don’t have PTO representation at every school, that those ones that do have representation understand that they’re the voice of the entire community and not just their school,” Chenoweth said. “They’re looking for a parent in the community that can speak for all of the parents.”

The statute does not give the board any directive to intervene in the screening committee selection or recommendations.

“…All of those people are your constituents, they’re members of your community,” he said.

Sneed said choosing a superintendent is the most important job of the board. Sneed said she, along with Wilson and Killen, participated in a symposium called, “Your superintendent is gone, now what?”

“We took the training from KSBA and it was pretty in-depth, but an hour and 15 minutes of training doesn’t make me feel comfortable,” Sneed said.

The board discussed two options for consulting services for the superintendent search.

“Even though they’re a little bit more expensive, after reading their materials, I really like KSBA,” Killen said. “…because then we can also do the board member search with them…they’re just slightly higher than KASA (Kentucky Association of School Administrators.)”

Chenoweth said KSBA costs $6,000, plus travel.

“That’s multiple meetings and what I don’t know is how much does that travel end up being on top of $6,000,” he said.

Meek said KASA sent four prices; a bronze, a silver, a gold and a platinum.

“It starts at $4,000 and goes to almost $6,000,” Meek said.

Chenoweth said the platinum would actually be about $6,750 because there is an on-site finalist showcase, which is an additional $1,000.

“If you do the desired qualities question, it’s another $250 so that turns into a $7,000 contract if you do the two add-ons,” he said.

Meek said the Bronze and Silver plans are virtual.

“We don’t want virtual, we want somebody on site,” she said.

Wilson made a motion to use KSBA at a cost of $6,000.

The motion passed unanimously.