WACO begins the search for a new district leader
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
WAYLAND — WACO School Directors have opted to fill the superintendent’s post with an interim superintendent.
Pat Coen is in his third year as a shared superintendent with the Winfield-Mt. Union School District. Each district pays approximately $67,500 for Coen’s services.
In the past, a state grant (encouraging sharing of administrators) funded a large portion of the salary. Coen said last month that each school district “probably made $250,000” through the grant. The grant, however, expires after the current school year.
Coen’s contract with WACO ends June 30, 2013.
Tim Graber, WACO board president, noted this morning that the term “interim” may be misleading. “I don’t know if interim is correct. We would kind of like to get a half-time superintendent. We know we don’t have the financial resources to have a full-time superintendent.”
One possibility might be having WACO Elementary Principal Brandt Snakenberg assume the position along with his principal’s position. Snakenberg will complete his education for his superintendent’s certification this spring.
“That might be a step to save money by combining the jobs,” Graber said. “We will have to see how this year goes.”
Snakenberg is in his first year at the district and he was hired, there was talk of him eventually assuming the district’s top administrative post.
Directors opted not to employ a search firm and will advertise for an “interim superintendent” for a six-month to two-year time period.
“We’re going to advertise and see what is out there,” Graber remarked.
Tina Whalen, vice-chair of the district’s 4 +1 innovative calendar committee, briefed the board on the committee’s progress.
“We are working hard toward a consensus on the issues,” Whalen said. “Right now, we are making the final touches on presenting it (innovative calendar) to the staff next Wednesday (Nov. 28).
“Personally, I feel we have a better understanding on how we stand on important instructional issues and the direction we need to go,” Whalen continued. “We still need more information.”
The committee will present its plan to directors during a board work session Saturday, Dec. 1. The board is expected to take formal action on the plan during its Dec. 17 regular meeting.
“We want to make decisions that are in the best interests of our students,” Whalen added.
Asked whether students had to attend school on Friday, Snakenberg said he would not count them as truant if they were not in school. “Our assertion is that Monday-Thursday will be what is now our Monday-Friday,” the principal said. “I would stop short of calling a student truant if he/she was not there on Friday.”
Whalen noted that the innovative calendar will allow for a 50-minute daily block where teachers can discuss instruction, a luxury teachers don’t have now. “Every day we will have a block to review what the students are learning and what they are missing. We don’t have time to do that now.”
Board member JoEllen Jepson said she hopes the calendar enhances education for all students, especially students who have difficulty in school. “I really see this as a way not to leave any kid stagnant. I see this from a board perspective as an opportunity to pull kids along.”
Superintendent Coen, in his report to the board, said that maintenance work is being completed this week on the often-maligned geothermal system at the secondary school in Wayland.
“The geothermal people are here this week working on and flushing the system,” Coen explained. He said workers will also fix leaks and recharge the system.”
He also noted the innovative calendar is an opportunity for education at the district to flourish. “The 4 + 1 is a great opportunity to address our (district) goals. It is huge and a great opportunity to impact all students. This is very exciting.”
Final action saw the board accept the resignation of Harold Arbogast, bus driver. A contract was approved for Kristin McElhinney as an elementary school associate. McElhinney will work four hours per week.
Permission was granted for a government class trip to Washington, D.C., in March 2013.
WACO directors meet again in regular session Monday, Dec. 17, at 6:30 p.m. in the high school media center.