In a 5-4 vote, the School District 2 board decided to advertise regionally for its interim superintendent rather than hire a company to search nationwide.
The vote was in response to a meeting planned for Tuesday night — now canceled — where trustees Connie Wardell and Travis Kemp planned to lay out what they’d found in researching the district’s options for finding an interim superintendent.
Superintendent Keith Beeman gave up day-to-day control of the district last week and is officially done on Oct. 31.
Wardell had found a firm based in Chicago that places interim superintendents with districts and then helps those districts find permanent replacements.
“This next year is a critical year for School District 2,” said Chairwoman Barbara Bryan.
She advocated for using a firm that would use a researched and methodical process for finding SD2 a qualified interim superintendent.
Trustee Connie Wardell agreed. She pointed out that the district has a problem retaining superintendents and that if it wants to change that it must do something different.
Using the headhunting firm would be something the district has not done before, she said.
But Trustee Lindy Graves said the district needs to find an interim quickly and that it didn’t need to use an elaborate process to find someone who only would be around for a matter of months.
Trustee Pam Ellis worried about the costs.
“I think we have a priority to live within the budget,” she said.
At the root of the argument was the disagreement about whether the board should broaden the search or if it should hire locally to fill the interim spot — a veiled reference to Jack Copps, the district’s previous superintendent who’s still in town.
There was also some disagreement about what Kemp and Wardell actually had been tasked to do — find the interim or set up a process to find the interim.
As a result, the meetings between Kemp and Wardell were not advertised to the public, though they should have been, Kemp said.
He said he takes the responsibility for not advertising the meetings and said he didn’t realize his mistake until he read through his board packet.
“The whole thing has kind of been a learning experience, to say the least,” he said.
In the end, Graves proposed the board place an ad regionally to find the interim superintendent rather than hiring a firm. The ad would expire on Oct. 31 and in the intervening two weeks, trustees will put together a list of what they want in an interim superintendent.
If they don’t end up with the candidates they want, the board could then use a firm to find the interim.
Trustees Graves, Ellis, Kemp, Travis Smith and Teresa Stroebe voted for the plan. Trustees Bryan, Wardell, Greta Besch Moen and Kathy Aragon voted against it.
All the trustees seemed to agree it would be wise to use a national headhunting firm to find the permanent superintendent.