NCHS Board Discusses Search For New Superintendent With IASB Rep
By Alex Haglund
At their regular October meeting held on the evening of Monday, October 16, the NCHS School Board spoke with Jim Helton, a representative of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), who described the IASB’s executive search service that the board is considering using to help find a replacement for superintendent Ernie Fowler.
The NCHS Board had previous utilized the IASB’s search service in 2014, when it was used to help in the process of hiring Fowler, who replaced retiring superintendent Wendy Davis.
Helton provided literature to the board members about the executive search, along with their own previous requirements and information, taken from the 2014 search.
There is also a survey available as part of the search process that could be conducted to collect the ideas of parents, community members and teachers in terms of what they would see in an ideal superintendent candidate, which would allow the board and the search committee to order and compile their collective needs for a school executive.
“That is not something that we had in ‘14,” Helton said.
When asked by the board about a timeline, Helton said that from initial approval of their service, they could be advertising for the position within about six-to-eight weeks, which would put NCHS on a schedule not too far off from 2014.
“I think we interviewed in January, hired in February,” said Sharon Ogrzewalla, one of the current board members who was present during that process.
District 99 Interim Superintendent Thomas Hawkins, presiding over his first regular meeting of the school board described himself to Helton as, “a bit of an advocate for the school board,” and stated that he believed that, “the skill set and hard skills are the starting point.”
Beyond that, Hawkins stated that it would be extremely important to both the board, the district and the community as a whole, that whoever is hired be a very good match for the district in terms of personality and ideals.
Board member Paul Barczewski asked if there was any options available to the board if they became aware of a candidate on their own.
Helton stated that such a candidate would then need to apply for the position through their search anyway, as the IASB service acts as an equal-opportunity employer.
Board member John Hallock asked the other board members if they were not to use the IASB Executive Search service, what their other options would be, and the board reached the conclusion that in that event, they would likely end up tasked with the job of finding a new superintendent themselves.
For a district the size of Nashville, a high school with an enrollment under 500, the cost for the IASB Executive Search would be $6,400, with the option for an additional service at a cost of $1,500 wherein Helton would spend a working day in the district conducting focus groups and coordinating information.
The item was not yet on the agenda for approval, the board will likely revisit it at a later date.
Interim Superintendent’s Report
Hawkins thanked the staff, parents the board, and, “anyone who has made me feel welcome here.”
He stated that as an interim superintendent, he is limited to 100 days in-district and he has been working with Principal Mark Begnado and Treasurer Stephanie Bauza to best map out the days when he will be present to help meet the district’s needs.
Hawkins told the board that he is in the process of researching and writing grants and wants to, “Keep the district on a straight path. It’s a work in progress, but I appreciate the help that people have given me.”
He also told board members that he had taken an opportunity to speak with a group of the district’s teachers.
Hawkins said that he told the teachers that, “we’re preparing kids for jobs that don’t exist yet, so the best thing that we can do is to teach help teach them how to think.”
Hawkins also stated that he would be working on the levy for the district.
“My goal is to capture the maximum amount that is allowable and appropriate to each of the levied funds,” he told the board.
“I know that times are hard,” Hawkins added, and while stressing responsibility to the district’s taxpayers, he stated, “when you’re deficit spending, it’s important to get every bit that you can.”
NCHS Principal Mark Begando gave his monthly report to the board, praising teachers’ setting of expectations, and students’ meeting them.
On the disciplinary front, Begando mentioned that there were a number of referrals for students not signing in at lunch. Freshman and Sophomore students who are not allowed to leave the campus for lunch have to sign in so as to insure their attendance, and many times, they simply do not remember to.
Begando told the board that this was not typically an act of malfeasance as much as it was a lapse in memory. The problem often occurred in students that brought their lunches with them, rather than buying them, because they then needed to remember to go through the line to key their number in.
“I’m trying to get them to remember to sign in,” said Begando. Still, he stated that this was not a serious issue or a high number of referrals, it was just high compared to other reasons for discipline.
A report on the Freedom of Information Act requests that were received by the district was given to the board. He stated that there were requests that came in from The Nashville News, The Okawville Times, The Belleville News Democrat, and from American Watchdog.
Begando also congratulated the girls’ golf team on their third place finish in the state championship, and then invited the members of the board come out to see the music department’s upcoming performances of “Shrek”.
District 99 Treasurer Stephanie Bauza gave her report to the board, saying, “In September, we got the back state aid for August.”
Bauza then added that the district has, as of this point, received two rounds of payments from locally collected real estate taxes.
The board approved a three year contract for auditing with the firm Sheffel and Boyle.
An addendum was made to Begando’s contract which extended the deadline for him to submit his list of goals for the school year out until November 5. The extension is due to Begando’s preoccupation with extra duties that he was handling during the tumultuous beginning of this school year.
The board approved updates to their policy and handbook in line with recommendations made by the IASB. Among these, Hawkins directed the board’s attention to item 6:180, which he stated solidifies cooperative agreements between the district, Kaskaskia College and other school districts.
The board approved their annual risk management policy, which helps to distribute money from the tort fund to staff and teachers who carry out jobs which help to insure safety and limit liability in the district.
The board authorized Hawkins to look into the formation of more board committees, in order to more efficiently distribute the district’s work.
Hawkins told the board that there had been new solar lights installed in front of NCHS, stating that they were, “a really nice addition.” He also stated that there was a new ice machine in the cafeteria.
Following closed session, the board approved a few items of personnel action.
The board accepted a temporary leave of absence from cross-country coach Jenna Orr.
Jenny Olsen was approved to serve as a Orr’s replacement as cross country coach during that leave of absence.
Jennifer Maschhoff was approved to supervise extracurricular activities.