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Long-term superintendent plan develops in Houston

By Angie Rodenburg

Fri, Feb 21st, 2014
Posted in All Education

The Houston School Board held a meeting on February 18. The discussion was primarily centered around the search for a new superintendent. The question on school board members’ minds was whether they wanted to pursue hiring a new superintendent immediately or delay the superintendent search until December while keeping Interim Superintendent Rick on board for another year.

The board was split on which direction would be the most beneficial to the school district. Board member Gary Wilson advocated to keep Dr. Rick another year, so that the district could benefit from his organizational expertise and experience. Tom Stilin agreed with Wilson.

Michaeleen Bonner thought that there was still time to conduct the superintendent search and felt they would be able to attract a good pool of candidates. Kevin Kelleher agreed with Bonner, adding that he would like to only have to go through the process once.

Joe Krage said he was listening to all sides before making his final decision. Mimi Carlson agreed stating that she was “on the fence.” She liked the idea of keeping Dr. Rick around for another year to glean from his expertise, but also was happy to move forward in the search for a permanent superintendent. “We’re going to have to find something eventually,” stated Carlson.

Ron Evenson was not adamant about which direction to take; however, felt that if they decide to keep Dr. Rick on for another year, that he would like to start the superintendent search early in December to give them plenty of time to find the right candidate.

Kevin Kelleher came up with a compromise that was well received by most of the board. He motioned that the board move ahead in the search for superintendent by posting the position; however, if no candidates of interest apply, they will move forward the next year with Dr. Rick at the helm. Michaeleen Bonner seconded the motion.

Before a vote was taken, the board members wanted to hear from Dr. Rick himself. He told the board that there were pros and cons to that strategy. A pro being that the board might find a great candidate; however, a con would be keeping the staff in limbo longer. Dr. Rick said he would not sign a contract, should the board decide to keep him, until they have made a final decision.

After hearing from Dr. Rick the vote was taken. Carlson, Evenson, Bonner, and Kelleher voted in the affirmative. Stilin, Krage, and Wilson voted in the negative. The motion passed. Kelleher made sure to say that the vote was not a reflection on Dr. Rick’s performance. He stated, “We are very happy with Dr. Rick. This is more about looking to the future.”

Another item discussed at the meeting was regarding the school meal plan policy. The current practice at Houston Public Schools is to never deny a student lunch based on their account balance. Students with negative balances will be served the same meal as the other kids and will not have to take an alternative meal. The school will work with the parents and help to get them on the free and reduced lunch program if needed. This practice, however, is inconsistent with the handbook policy. The board plans to correct this error by changing the handbook to reflect the school’s practice.

Interim Superintendent Rick closed out the meeting by congratulating the Houston High School dance team that came in tenth place at a recent competition. He stated, “They are exceptional. We have a lot to be proud of. Kudos to them and their coach.”

The next school board meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 4 at the Houston High School Library.

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