School board candidates want superintendent search slowed

Apr. 25, 2014 @ 06:02 PM

District 2 school board candidate Jimmy Doster issued a statement Friday calling on the school board to slow down the search for a new superintendent.
Doster also asked the other 12 candidates vying to fill four seats on the school board in the May 6 school board election to join him in demanding that the school board delay the search process until the new school board is seated in July. 
“Who can support an 18-day window to find the CEO for the $400 [million] enterprise, DPS?” Doster said during a candidate forum Thursday at E.K. Powe Elementary School and shared in a news release on Friday. “Yet this is what the lame-duck board has initiated? I'm against this.”
The school board has set an aggressive timeline to select a superintendent in June.
Doster said he planned to reach out to other school board candidates Friday.
He said they cannot claim to be “agents of change” and also allow the current school board to select the next superintendent.
“How can a school board candidate say they stand for change, while permitting the decision on the new superintendent to be made by a board whose membership will change in less than three months?” Doster asked. "How can candidates present themselves as agents for change and be willing to let others selects a CEO?”
He said now is the time for candidates to learn how to stand up to current school board members.
“If my fellow candidates can’t or won’t stand up to Heidi Carter and Minnie Forte-Brown on this issue, how will they be able to oppose other bad judgments in the future?” Doster said.
District 2 candidate Donald Hughes said he agrees that the board should slow the process down.
“I do think the current board is rushing the process,” Hughes said. ‘I really think the decision should be made by the new board because there’s a chance the board could have up to three new members.”
Voters will be asked to fill four of the board’s seven seats when they go to the polls on May 6.
Incumbent Natalie Beyer is running unopposed in District 4.
Incumbent Omega Curtis Parker is facing two challengers in District 1 and Fredrick Davis and Nancy Cox are not seeking re-election in Districts 2 and District 3 respectively, assuring at least two new faces on the board.
District 3 candidate Lisa Gordon Stella said she also wants the board to slow the process and to allow the next school board to select the new superintendent.
She said that if three new members are elected to the board they might have different priorities for the next superintendent.
Gordon Stella said that whoever is chosen to lead the school district should know what the direction the board wants him or her to take the district.
“It’s very unclear to me why they’re rushing the process, and I haven’t been able to get a straight answer,” Gordon Stella said.
She said the district has a competent person leading the system in Interim Superintendent Hugh Osteen.
Gordon Stella said Osteen is willing to continue in that role until the new superintendent is chosen.
“Why don’t we take some time to make sure we have the right individual,” Gordon Stella said.
Meanwhile, District 3 candidate Matt Sears said he believes the board should move cautiously with the overarching goal of hiring the best candidate whether that happens in June or next fall.
“I respect the voters’ election of the current board and they have the right to hire a superintendent on their timeline,” Sears said. “I hope the board won’t make an arbitrary call just because Ray & Associates says too.”
The search firm advised the board to hire a superintendent by June because that’s the month new contracts are signed, and it’s easier to do so.
Gary Ray, president of Ray & Associates, told the board that it’s difficult to get superintendents to leave jobs in the middle of the school year.