School board discusses interim replacement
by Amelia Holliday
HAZARD — The Perry County Board of Education held a special called board meeting Monday morning to make a decision on how to proceed with hiring a new superintendent.
The board voted 3-to-2 to hire an outside group to help choose a candidate for the superintendent position.
There was much discussion between the board members and those attending the meeting about whether or not the district should put money forth to hire an outside organization.
The Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) offers a service to help school districts locate candidates in a superintendent search, including organizing efforts for advertising, receiving applications, and forming a selection committee, for a price of $8,500. KSBA leaves the actual decision of which candidate to hire up to the district itself.
Jody Maggard, the district’s finance officer, presented the budget for the year earlier this month, which received a reduction of just over $700,000 in funds known as SEEK, and is likely to see further reductions with declining enrollment and higher property taxes.
In the last regular school board meeting, a KSBA representative said the process to find candidates, if the district decides to contract with them, would take about three months, however Mike Schmitt, the district’s attorney, said there are other agencies the board could go with.
“I’m not saying it’s a complicated process, but it’s one that if you don’t hire somebody to do it then somebody here’s going to have to do it and ultimately be responsible,” Schmitt said.
“The advantage of a search committee is they do all of that for you. They meet with the committees; they’ll help them get everything in. It is true that they develop those things but (ultimately) it is the board’s decision, but they see that it’s run right,” he explained.
Charles Campbell, a past member of the board who served for 20 years, spoke of his concerns for the financial well-being of the schools.
“You’re strapped for money, from what I can gather … I’ve not followed it real close but you’re in a pretty bad financial difficulty,” Campbell said.
Campbell said he thought the board should spare money wherever they could at this point in time, even if that meant forming a committee only with people and resources currently available.
Chairman of the Board, John C. Combs, agreed with Campbell.
“I for one would like to go ahead and stay internally and save the $8,500,” Combs said.
Board member Charlene Miller said whether it cost the district money or not, she thought hiring an outside agency was the right way to go.
“We’re going to be out money regardless,” Miller said. “I want to keep it as legal as possible, and get the best superintendent we can, whether it’s local, whether it’s not local. After what we’ve went through, we have got to get this school system straightened up.”
Interim superintendent Jonathan Jett said this decision by the board would not affect his job at this point.
“Of course, I’ll be a candidate,” Jett said, “but that doesn’t change what I do here now.”
The superintendent position will be listed as vacant by June 30 of this year, which means the board will have to actively start their search by that time.
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