Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Confusion on C-1 Superintendent Selection

Dr. Marge Williams selects Dr. Everlyn Williams to replace her in 2012-2013, School Board President says that’s not the case
 By Mary Kay Morrow
Contradictions and confusion surround the future of the Hickman Mills C-1 Superintendent position.
On September 6, a Hickman Mills press release announced that Superintendent Dr. Marge Williams will retire at the end of the 2011-12 school year, having decided to opt out of the last year of her three-year contract.
The release also announced that she had already hand-picked her replacement—Dr. Everlyn Williams.  Williams had served as Associate Superintendent of Elementary Schools for less than a month before this announcement. She has been promoted to a new Deputy Superintendent position for this year, before taking the helm as the district’s Superintendent in 2012-13.
The position was not posted, and interviews were not done.
According to district spokesperson John Baccala, the board and superintendent met in a closed session on August 25th and made the decision. 
“There was some talk of a nationwide candidate search, but this was Dr. Williams’ recommendation and the board approved it,” Baccala explained. 
This week, however, School Board President Bonnaye Mims said that Dr. Everlyn Williams will not necessarily be the district’s superintendent for 2012-13.
“A couple of board members want to do a search,” Mims said.
Asked about the contradiction, Baccala said Mims would know better than him. 
“They must have had a meeting,” Baccala said.
It is unclear when or how the change in decision was made, whether or not the votes were unanimous, if there was discussion, or how a search for a new superintendent would be conducted.
In the meantime, Dr. Everlyn Williams’ new position as Deputy Superintendent for this school year appears to triple the number of staff reporting directly to
 the Superintendent.
Last year, the district’s two top administrators  were Associate Superintendent of Business Mitch Nutterfield and Assistant Superintendent Beverly Phillips.
This year, Dr. Phillips’ title was changed to C-1 Director of Research and Assessment, and her former position was split into two positions— Associate Superintendent of Secondary Schools, held by Dr. Greg Rich, and Associate Superintendent of Elementary Schools, held by Dr. Everlyn Williams for approximately one month.  Former Burke Elementary Principal Casey Klapmeyer has taken over the Associate Superintendent of Elementary Schools post and Deb Fortner will serve as interim principal of Burke Elementary. In addition, Susie Fanning’s responsibilities were expanded to a new Associate Superintendent of Student and Special Services role which also reports directly to the superintendent.
So the creation of the new Deputy Superintendent role appears to make six top administrative positions for Hickman Mills, during a school year from which millions of dollars were cut.
“Keep in mind we cut a lot of staffing,” Baccala explained, adding that some of the new administrative positions have existed in the past, and that Fanning reported to Dr. Marge Williams part of the time last year on special services.
Having predicted a budget shortfall of more than $4 million last January, the board eliminated more than $3 million in costs in March, including 40 teaching positions - and $183,000 in administration costs - only to learn in June that the district had an extra $2 million once final state funding numbers were known.
“We made some tough decisions, decisions that I was very reluctant to agree to, and some that I didn’t agree to,” said Board Member Breman Anderson at the time.  “What you’re telling me now is, we may not have had to make those cuts.”
This month, the Hickman Mills C-1 School Board is scheduled to meet at 7pm on Tuesday, September 27th at the district’s administrative center, instead of its usual third Thursday of the month.

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