Andy Carlson will remain at the helm of Havre Public Schools until a full-time superintendent is hired. Havre Public Schools trustees voted unanimously during a meeting Tuesday evening to appoint Carlson, also the district's director of education, as the interim superintendent, after chairperson Shad Huston gave the recommendation of the superintendent committee to appoint him. After the meeting, Carlson said he realizes that some community members feel frustrated and angry about the turn of events, but that he wants to rebuild some of the trust and open communication with the community. "And, honestly, I believe that's my responsibility," he said. "And that needs to be a priority out of our office." Dave Mahon, who took over as superintendent in July replacing Dennis Parman, resigned last month for "personal reasons." No further elaboration on the reasons has been given and board members remain mum on the decision to pay Mahon for the remainder of this school year, complete with benefits, as well as an additional $97,000 divided over this year and the next two years. It's a decision that has drawn criticism from the community, and one communi ty member voiced her thoughts on the situation during the open agenda portion of the meeting. Kevann Campbell said that she's glad that there is leadership in place, and hopes that the situation is not drawn out. "What I'm worried about is the trust ..., " Campbell said. "How can we trust a board when we feel things haven't been transparent, things that we believe as a community should be transparent?" To restore that trust, she said, she needs to know that policies and contracts were followed. Without a renewed trust, she said, she will have a difficult time believing in future decisions, such as setting mill levy amounts. Mistakes are made, she said. "What we need to know is that we followed the rules." Huston said after the meeting that the board did follow policies and acted after receiving advice from the Montana School Boards Association. Brian Barrows, principal at Sunnyside Intermediate School, who held a superintendent position before taking on his current role in July, was also considered, Huston said. But it was determined that Carlson's appointment would cause the least disruption in classrooms, he added. While he called the overall situation unfortunate, trustee Curtis Smeby Thanked and recognized Carlson for his work so far to keep the schools running. Audience members also spoke in favor of Carlson's appointment as well as giving him extra compensation for additional duties. When Parman took the interim position several years ago, he was compensated, Huston said. The superintendent committee will meet with Carlson and negotiate what that compensation will be, Huston said. "It's unfortunate that we're in this situation, but I do believe that that would be fair," Campbell said. Another audience member asked if Carlson could be appointed to the position full-time. "I really appreciate that people would think along those line," Carlson, who is currently in the process of obtaining his superintendent's endorsement, said after the meeting. He had planned to get the endorsement eventually, just not yet, he said. "I'm happy in the position I had," he said. "I was never unsatisfied doing that work." He said he wasn't considering being the full-time superintendent five weeks ago, and he's still not seriously considering it. Being the superintendent would mean that he would be at the top of one ladder and have to consider moving to another district to advance his career. "I think a lot of this community," he said. "And I like my kids being in Havre Public Schools." His work load as director of education will be redistributed, he said. Priorities will have to be established, with the primary focus given to operations that affect students and deadline-driven projects. Attention must be given to the standardized testing which will be administered in mid-March, as well as to curriculum reviews, planning for the fall institute and federal programs, he said. And, it might not be in his job description, but answering communications through the phone and e-mail also has to be done, he added. In the next few days, a job opening will be posted to attract potential candidates to fill the position by July 1. Huston said that an initial review of applications will probably be completed toward the end of March. A thorough interview process will take place with ample time for members of the community to voice their comments, he said. Ideally, a new superintendent will be in place by July 1, but Huston stressed that the trustees don't want to rush the decision and need to make sure that the best candidate gets the job. The district will perform the search on its own initially, Huston said, but he left open the option to hire the Montana School Board Association to perform a comprehensive search. Currently, the MTSBA has agreed to help at no cost, but a full search would come with a price tag. Huston estimated last month that the search for Mahon cost more than $10,000.
Carlson appointed as interim superintendent
Published: Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Click Here To See More Stories Like This