Eleven certified administrators resign

The resignations make for highest amount in years

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By Karissa Schmidt

(Photo Illustration)

Justin Curto, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

Eleven certified administrators have resigned since the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9, including six at the district level, giving this year the most certified administration resignations of at least the past four years.

District resignations include superintendent Dr. Doug Sumner, director of teaching and learning Dr. Jessica Dain, director of human resources Lachelle Sigg, director of special services Anjanette Tollman, assistant director of teaching and learning Christy James and elementary curriculum coordinator Kristl Taylor.

At the high school level, assistant principal David Ewers and De Soto High School assistant principal John Sedler resigned. At the middle school level, Monticello Trails Middle School and Mill Creek Middle School school improvement specialist Dr. Erin Smith resigned. At the elementary school level, Horizon Elementary School principal Kasey Weishaar and Starside Elementary School principal Chris Lowe resigned.

None of the administrators contacted commented specifically on their reasons for resignation.

In addition to reasons such as familial ones, gifted facilitator Carmen Shelly said finances may have played into these resignations.

“These may be at least lateral moves in terms of money and salary,” Shelly said. “Even though they are not in the same high-level position … they are not taking a pay cut.”

Director of administrative services and community relations Alvie Cater said resignations like these may occur for a number of reasons.

“I think you’ll find that if you were to look at any organization, people will leave because it’s a better opportunity for them in their career, it could be a better financial situation and they may leave for other reasons,” Cater said.

With this, Cater said the amount of resignations will not affect how others see the district.

“I don’t think the reputation has been harmed,” Cater said. “Whenever you have a number of resignations, obviously you’ll have professionals who are maybe interested in some of these positions that may think twice … We can overcome that.”

However, Board member Mitch Powers said the resignations may lead to questions about the district.

“If I am considering this district, I am going to ask why so many left,” Powers said via email. “I will understand ‘from the street’ what has been happening and that would certainly come into my mind.”

Powers also said the Board could not have caused the resignations.

“No single Board member has the authority to act unilaterally on any personnel issues,” Powers said. “It is the entire Board’s responsibility, not an individual member’s priority, to decide on any actions or course to be taken.”

According to Shelly, it will be hard to acclimate new administrators to the district next year.

“Just getting other people up and running on what we have been doing and what we need to change is going to be difficult,” Shelly said. “I have complete confidence in our building administration to do that and to be supportive of us as teachers. That doesn’t necessarily lessen the stress.”

Though she also worries about changes coming from new administration, math teacher Laurie Deuschle said those hired to fill open administration positions might bring beneficial concepts to the district.

“It could be very good for the district that we’re getting new people and to maybe have different ideas, new ideas to help things out within our district,” Deuschle said.

Cater recognized there will be a learning period for new administration, but said the district must keep leadership steady.

“Whenever you have individuals who are new to the system, there is a transition, a learning curve, and that is a challenge, but it is a challenge that can’t be overcome,” Cater said. “At the leadership level, we need to strive for as much stability as we can.”

To better retain administrators in the future, Shelly suggested communication with those who resign.

“Our district could learn from … exit interviews what our issues [are] that we need to work on,” Shelly said. “I’m hoping that there’s some of that going on so that we can have a feel for what changes in direction we need to make.”

Cater said the district could look at salaries, advancement opportunities and the overall feelings of the district for retention methods.

“We can and should do more to not necessarily pay as much as the larger districts in Johnson County, but we can be more competitive and so we need to address that,” Cater said. “More importantly, we need to have an organization that provides an opportunity for movement within the organization and we need to have a culture that remains focused on why we do what we do.”

Regardless, Cater said the district will move on from its losses.

“Adversity does produce opportunity,” Cater said. “I am of the belief that sometimes things happen for a reason and, although the reasons may not be understood fully, I do believe that we will be better in the future than we are today.”

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