School board intensifies search for superintendent

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By JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
After a Thanksgiving visit to see his daughter in Idaho, which included traveling through the weekend's winter storm, Moffat County School Board member Gary Ellgen was unable to make it to Monday's meeting.
It's unfortunate, because the board really could have used him.
Ellgen's vote would have broken a 3-3 deadlock on three different motions regarding the implementation of a search for Moffat County's new superintendent of schools.
Because of its inability to come to a consensus, the board chose to postpone the decision until the December meeting.
Board member Steve Hafey said the shrinking timeline is a concern, but the board should still have time to implement a quality search even with the one-month postponement.
"It is a concern, but with a December meeting we still have time," he said. "The board is struggling with the idea of what the best method is to find a superintendent that is satisfactory to us all."
Hafey said board members are split on whether they should conduct a search outside the district or whether they should look within.
"Some have the feeling that maybe we don't need a search, but some are asking how do we know unless we look outside," he said. "I guess we really don't know."
Hafey favored staying in the district.
"I'm not in favor of a search," he said. "I'm in favor of finding a local candidate. But whatever the board decides I will support."
But judging by the votes Monday night, a decision might not come easy.
The first motion, made by John Wellman, would have had board members conducting a search themselves, and placing ads in such publications as the Denver Post and Education Weekly.
Applications would have been due by February.
After that motion ended in a deadlock, Hafey made a motion to post the job opening district-wide for 30 days.
However, the vote on Hafey's motion also ended with three votes on each side.
The third motion, made by John Kinkaid, was to use a service offered by the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) to conduct the search. It costs $6,000 for CASB's services, and that vote also ended in a tie.
The only motion the board could agree upon was one made by Jerry Magas, which tabled the decision until the next meeting.
Delaying the decision was approved by a vote of 5-1.
Board president Phil Hastings said he was a little concerned that the board was postponing the process another month.
"There's a little concern there because it's a time-consuming process," he said. "But we'll still be able to get it done in a timely fashion."
Hastings saw the situation a little differently than Hafey.
"I don't know if I would characterize it as half wanting to stay inside the district, and half wanting to go outside," he said. "I would say some just want to advertise and see what's there."
Hastings also offered his opinion on how the search should be conducted.
"I think we need to advertise," he said. "Not to say that I wouldn't change my mind."
Good candidates already reside within the district, he said, but the board also needs to see what else is available.
Currently, Pete Bergmann is serving as interim-superintendent after the departure of Duane Wrightson, who left last summer for a job in Michigan.
Hafey believes that the time and money spent on a search might result in no changes.
"The conclusion of a search might be that Pete is the best we can find," he said.

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