Discussions on committee size occupied much of the time allotted to form and instruct the community and staff committees that will assist the Boscobel School Board in interviewing and selecting a new district superintendent at a special meeting held Tuesday in the middle-high school gymnasium.
School board president Todd Miller broached the subject by asking the board and members of the public in attendance what they felt an appropriate committee size was, suggesting five to seven members.
From the bleachers, Cherryl Knowles queried the need to limit the size of the committees.
“Why limit how many people can participate?” Knowles asked. “You can have a couple of people ask all the questions and allow everyone to fill the room who expre
“Would the listeners be allowed to give input?” asked Melony Owens.
Miller explained that his thought would be that committee members would rank the responses and give written commentary.
Knowles asked the board how many people had signed up to be on the committees.
“We have 14 names for staff and 14 for the community,” answered board treasurer Roger Knoble.
“Well, I think five or seven people is plenty for a committee,” responded board vice president Chuck Owens.
Discussion of where the interviews would be conducted and how many people the spaces could hold ensued.
“I am going to play devil’s advocate for a moment, but I think having a larger number of people could make it more difficult,” said Wendi Stitzer. Stitzer noted that more people could pose challenges in both conducting the interview and reaching a decision.
Miller explained that each committee would need to come up with their questions ahead of time and that the idea was to have members of the administration team on each of the committees. With some members of the public expressing that they felt the committees should be a mix of staff, community and board, Miller assured them that the idea was for each committee to collaborate after the interviews.
“But if we are going to sit and talk about this afterward, more than five or seven on a committee is too many,” expressed Miller.
“If you put 39 people in a room, you’re going to have a four-hour debate,” added Owens.
Board member Jason Pickett motioned that the committees be formed of seven members from the list plus two administrators.
Draw of the hat
It was agreed with minimal discussion that drawing names from a hat was the best selection process.
Wally Bryne asked the board about the planned process for developing interview questions. Specifically, he wondered if everyone who had expressed interest in being on a committee could help formulate questions.
Middle-high school principal Rod Lewis explained that interested staff had already begun formulating questions.
His plan was to have the committee meet and refine the questions with an eye to developing eight to ten questions. He hoped to see the staff committee formed of staff representing the different areas of the school – early childhood, elementary, middle school, high school, special education, and paraprofessionals.
“To piggyback on Wally’s question, why not let people who expressed interest help develop questions, and why not let them sit in on interviews?” asked Knowles.
Miller noted the timeline for interviews meant the decision on ranking responses would be constrained to the ten minutes between interviews and immediately after their conclusion. His hope was that at the end of the nights, the first round of interviews would have narrowed the search to two candidates.
With further discussion on who should attend the interviews, Bryne again spoke, noting, “The logistics aren’t in how many people are in the committee, the logistics are in that each person must be asked the same questions and rated on the same scale.”
Bryne added that if the concern was efficiency, having a chairperson to ask the questions and be designated to speak, the number of people listening to the response was irrelevant. He asked the board if the intent was to make a decision the night of the interviews or the following day.
“I don’t know. I don’t know that we can know before that night,” Miller responded. “My hope is that the committees can come up with their two or so highest rated candidates.”
Picket expressed concern again at the idea of more than the committee members being present.
“Some of these people can’t be quiet for half an hour, so how are they going to make it through the interview process without talking?” Pickett asked.
Owens answered with an explanation of the professionalism required of the committee, noting it was the board’s job to instruct them on what to do or not do, as they themselves had been instructed in the past by the school’s legal counsel.
Following continued discussion on how many should be involved in interviews, Miller reminded the board that a motion and second had been made to limit the committees to five people plus two representatives from the district administrative team.
The board voted in favor of the motion with only Miller and board member Derek Zimpel dissenting.
A subsequent unanimous vote approved choosing committee members by draw.
Members of the community interview committee are: Ken Schweiger, Tim Jacobson, Stan Peagram, Cherryl Knowles, and Deanne Chappel. Alternates are Jacob Knowles and Wendi Stitzer.
Members of the staff interview committee are: Sarah Dalton, Deb Krogen, Deb Nordloh, Emily Blackbourne,
and Tomi Ann Gebhard. Alternates are Grant Reynolds and Wally Byrne.
The committee assignments were approved unanimously.
The remainder of the meeting was taken up with second interviews with contractors Miron Construction and Kramer Brothers Construction and architects Bray Architects and HSR Associates.
The board voted to hire HSR and Kramer, contingent upon approval of the referendum.