By Brandi Makuski
With Internet and phone lines temporarily down due to a nearby car accident, the school board on Monday had no choice but to postpone a previously scheduled interview with a candidate for interim superintendent.
The board had scheduled to interview a candidate via Skype- a form of video chat- while in closed session. District employees had set up a conference call system before realizing the phone lines were down.
Board President Angel Faxon initially suggested holding the interview using a cell phone speaker function, but others on the board worried about being able to communication effectively. Board members Meg Erler and Chris Scott pointed out a closed-session call with a district consultant last week was not very successful.
“It was difficult to hear parts of the conversation, and I’d be worried about the candidate being able to hear us,” Erler said.
“It limits our ability to connect with that person (the candidate). This is the number one, first impression we’re going to have with somebody. Rushing this is the worst thing we can do,” said Scott. “We need to take our time to do this the right way.”
The identity of the interim superintendent candidate has not been released by the board, with Faxon saying board members wanted to avoid having area residents contact the candidate prior to an interview. Despite that, Board Member Jeff Presley did give a clue that the candidate was not local, saying on Monday the candidate lived in a time zone “two hours behind us”.
The postponement is the latest in snafus on the road to replacing Superintendent Attila Weninger, who last May announced he would resign at the end of the 2014-15 school year.
Following Weninger’s announcement, the board took several weeks to consider a no-superintendent option, widely decried by the public, before hiring Ray and Associates to assist in a nationwide search for suitable candidates.
Two finalists, Jack Stoskopf, Jr. and Kehl Arnson, were chosen from a pool of about 30 applicants. Stoskopf is the assistant superintendent for business/personnel services in the D.C. Everest Area School Distric. Arnson is the district’s director of secondary education.
After vetting the candidates and organizing a public meet and greet, as well as taking input both publicly and anonymously for the public, the board voted not to hire either individual and instead take on an interim superintendent for the 2015-16 school year.
Faxon and Scott said they’ve both received several calls from residents concerned about the board’s actions of late, and both say they anticipate the complaints to continue.
“But tonight, this is not our fault,” Scott said. “There’s nothing we can do.”
The board went on to enter into closed session Monday to discuss an unknown topic at Faxon’s prompting, who said there was a discussion the board “needed to have”.
The closed- session meeting lasted for about 30 minutes, during which board members Lisa Totten and Kim Shirek could be clearly heard yelling from the hallway in between the muffled responses from others in the room. Totten and Shirek left immediately on adjournment but remaining before members would not comment on the nature of the closed-session discussion.
The board has rescheduled its interview with the candidate for Monday, April 13 in closed session.