June 10, 2015ALTON — The Alton Central School Board met on Wednesday, June 3, as a follow up to the June 1 meeting in which the board met with career superintendent Bill Compton about serving as an interim for the ACS until September.
The board was also to meet with Michael Everngam from MRI (Municipal Resources Inc.) also regarding an interim superintendent, but there was some confusion and the board had to reschedule with Everngam for June 3.
They began with public input.
Resident Jeffrey Clay spoke and questioned the whole process by which the board had attempted to fill the superintendent vacancy. Clay stated the current superintendent Bill Lander had given his resignation months earlier and he did not understand why the town was scrambling to fill the job in this late hour.
Clay also applauded the board for interviewing Compton in public a few days previous, but questioned why public interviews were not done with the other candidates the search committees had previously found and interviewed.
Clay questioned the need for the superintendent's position to be full-time. He advocated it should only be part-time.
Additionally, Clay stated he felt it was unfair to the staff, students and community for the school board to hire an interim superintendent for the summer only to transition again to another person in the fall.
Board chairperson Krista Argiropolis answered Clay, stating the board decided to make the position full-time in response to a March school board meeting in which there was a lot of public input.
"Over and over full-time superintendent was what we heard that night," stated Argiropolis.
She also stated the board has interviewed other candidates and a process was completed.
"We have been transparent…no one was hired at the last meeting. We tabled that decision," said Argiropolis.
She also informed Clay and others present the board had not gone back through previously submitted applications as suggested at the June 1 meeting since that would constitute a meeting of the school board, which would have to be first posted publicly.
Argiropolis stated this meeting with Evergnam of MRI was regarding placing a superintendent in the district, something MRI does regularly in helping other districts.
In regards to Clay's questioning of the timeline, Argiropolis said the board accepted the resignation letter from Lander in January. They posted the position as quickly as they could.
"I have been above board about the time it has taken," said Argiropolis.
Since there was no other public input, the board voted to hire Carl Nickerson as technology assistant for the month of June and also voted to hire Ann Laria as a first grade teacher.
The board then took a 10-minute recess until its 5:30 p.m. appointment with Everngam.
Argiropolis began the meeting with Everngam explaining the need for an interim superintendent.
"We are in need of an interim superintendent. We went through the process with a committee search. A couple of names were put forward by the committee, one name pulled out and one name wasn't a good fit," explained Argiropolis.
Everngam shared a little about his background, including recognizing he was involved as a business administrator with the Alton SAU in the 1980s.
He explained MRI, if hired, would search for someone who is a good fit with the district. They could make assessments and also build a team to provide services to address identified needs, including business operations if desired.
Everngam noted he felt MRI had several possible superintendents that could be a good fit for Alton.
School board vice-chairman Steve Miller questioned how successful could the school expect MRI to be in handling the issues facing ACS.
Everngam answered, saying MRI brings all experienced people, a lot of who have many years of experience behind them. Again he also stated MRI could offer other support services including mentoring a new food service supervisor or helping to hire a new principal.
"Anyway we want to craft the solution to the problem, we can," stated Everngam.
Miller asked how employees are compensated and Everngam explained they receive a fee per hour for professional services and in exchange the contracted employees provide a detailed itemized work list from their work schedule.
He further explained the professionals would not be employees of the school, MRI would be paid for serviced rendered and they would issue 1099 forms to the contracted individuals.
Miller questioned how the district would go about replacing MRI personnel with whom they were not pleased.
Everngam stated if the school could give a 30-day notice, MRI would replace an individual with someone else who was "at least as qualified."
School board member Sandy Wyatt informed Everngam she believed the school should get a superintendent who is knowledgeable about curriculum, since ACS would not have a curriculum director this next year. The current curriculum director is going back into the classroom and they need to find a replacement.
Everngam stated he felt MRI could provide the right person in regards to curriculum knowledge.
Wyatt also expressed her desire to have the superintendent nominate a principal to the school.
"None of us want to have a short term principal in the building. We want to be up and running by August," said Wyatt.
Everngam, however, stated this is not the best time of year to search for a principal since most candidates have already signed contracts for the upcoming year. He stated it is better to search in the winter months than in August or September.
He encouraged the board to look at this next "year of transition" at the end of which they would have a really good, long term superintendent and principal.
He noted currently a lot of superintendents were moving out of full-time employment and also observed that ACS would be a good school for a lot of principals.
School board member Terri Noyes noted MRI has effectively helped the town of Alton with other departments in previous years.
"We have had really good luck with your firm," stated Noyes.
The board then briefly met with Everngam in non-public under RSA 91:3(b).
When the board returned to public session, Argiropolis stated the board would receive more information from MRI regarding contracts and terms.
The Alton Central School board was scheduled to meet on June 8 and will meet again on June 22 at 5 p.m. in the school's media center.