As the Newberg School Board begins to search for a new superintendent, there is a lot to be done. The president and vice-president of the school board face recall efforts. Several lawsuits have been filed both by the school board and against the school board. And the school district has been in the national news for months because of the ban on “political” symbols approved by the council’s conservative majority.
The board fired its superintendent Joe Morelock last month, in a rushed 4-3 vote without notice to the public.
Now board chair Dave Brown has indicated he wants the school district to have a new permanent superintendent in as little as six weeks.
To Tuesday board meeting, the school board understood de Brown about a potential “back-up” superintendent who would take over immediately and help with daily chores for 60 days. This person is Willamette Educational Services District Superintendent Dave Novotney.
Brown said Novotney would help Newberg a few days a week at no cost.
Lisa Freiley, lawyer at Willamette ESD, assists Newberg in his process to replace the superintendent. Freiley said Novotney had offered to help create a “calm sense of moving forward.”
“From his perspective, he felt that the best way to support the school district would be to support students and staff and focus on teaching and learning and supporting the district administration in operations. daily that they must all resume. … right now, ”Freiley said.
Although Brown did meet with Novotney, the rest of the board did not. These conversations will likely take place at a board meeting next week.
Related: Newberg School Board Formally Approves Policy Banning Political Symbols
The board also heard from two recruitment firms offering their services for the hiring of a permanent superintendent. They were asked to answer five questions related to timing, vacation timing, community engagement, recruiting, and how to encourage applicants to apply.
Senior research consultant Rob Hess of Oregon-based Breakthrough Consulting came up with two timing options for hiring Newberg’s next superintendent: a “compressed schedule” that would start before the holidays and end with a job offer. mid-January, and a longer schedule that would continue into the spring, with opportunities for community engagement.
Some board members expressed concerns about the transparency and fairness of a “compressed” research that would mostly take place behind closed doors, during school board leadership meetings (to which the public is not. authorized to attend).
Parts of the Superintendent’s searches usually take place in leadership sessions, including interviews. But the board is required to solicit public comment on the standards and criteria of a superintendent, and the hiring of a superintendent must be public.
The second candidate, Doug Nelson of national cabinet McPherson and Jacobson, said he would not be able to commit to a six-week deadline. Nelson added that two months is the “minimum” time that a search can take.
Nelson also indicated that, if chosen to lead the research, it would not begin until after the vacation.
McPherson and Jacobson are currently lead the process to find the new principal of public schools in Greater Albany, another district in Oregon whose school board fired its principal this year.
Among the questions the council posed to the two men, President Brown asked about the possibility of bringing in candidates for the head of a “divided” district.
“Do you think we can attract candidates who will be interested in coming here for hard work, hard work?” Brown asked Hess.
Hess said he would reach out to people he knows who could help Newberg and bring in “high quality candidates who are ready to do the job and want to do the job.”
Related: Newberg school board votes to fire superintendent, no cause given
Nelson said the district needed an experienced superintendent who “understands the dynamics of a school board.”
But Nelson also said Newberg’s board was not alone in its troubles.
“School boards across the state, across the country, have huge disagreements,” Nelson said.
“This COVID affair has caused all kinds of ferment everywhere… of the school boards that I am working with right now, they are divided, and they have been. “
The board has not decided which company to hire.
Even before Tuesday’s formal board meeting, there was reports President Brown approaching potential candidates for the post, including current Alsea school district superintendent and Republican candidate for governor, Marc Thielman.
During Tuesday’s meeting, board member Rebecca Piros asked Brown if he had approached Newberg’s deputy superintendent Derek Brown to take over as acting superintendent.
President Dave Brown confirmed that he asked Derek Brown, who said no, but it was different from “offering” him the job. According to Piros, this exchange was not shared with the board or the public.
In a statement shared with the school district community on November 30, President Brown said he wanted the search for the next superintendent to be “transparent and in line with district policy.”
Board of directors review December 14. Brown said there may be another meeting on Dec. 16 focused on hearing the Newberg community about the Superintendent’s search.