2017-07-19 / Front Page

School board in talks with potential interim super.

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County School Board is negotiating with a potential candidate for the position of interim county school superintendent.

School board president David Ambrose said on Monday afternoon that a special 11 a.m. meeting was scheduled for today, July 19, to name the successful finalist, consider and possibly approve a written contract for the position, and deliberate and possibly act on other matters regarding the superintendent search.

Ambrose said that the meeting had to be scheduled with the needed two-day notice in case the negotiations were successful. He cautioned that the candidate or the board could change their mind and today’s special meeting might not take place. He said that he could not name the candidate at press time.

The school board interviewed three applicants on Saturday, July 15 in executive session. School board vice-president Aaron Close said on Saturday that they were pleased with all three interviews and would be reviewing the three applicants’ presentations this week.

The school board hoped to have a finalist named for the interim superintendent position by August 1. It had five applications for the job.

The interviewees

The three applicants chosen for interviews were new Morgan County Schools Director of Human Resources and Maintenance and former Berkeley Springs High School Assistant Principal Jamie Harris, Rhonda McPherson-Wilder and Erich May.

Close confirmed that McPherson-Wilder was hired last August as a Berkeley Springs High School special education multi-categorical with autism/math teacher and that May is Principal of Mc- Connellsburg Middle School and High School in Fulton County, Pennsylvania.

Special July 12 meeting

The school board had a special meeting in executive session last Thursday, July 12 to consider the five applications for school superintendent. All five board members attended both the July 12 meeting and the Saturday, July 15 meeting with applicant interviews.

Board president David Ambrose said after their Thursday meeting that one applicant for superintendent had dropped out and accepted another position. The board decided not to interview the fifth applicant. Ambrose said then that the school board might also reach out to a few retirees with administrative experience regarding the superintendent position.

Interim superintendent

Close said on Saturday that the school board had asked for legal guidance on the hiring. They were told that West Virginia state code specified that they could only hire an interim superintendent now due to the date of Superintendent David Banks’ resignation.

A more extensive search for a new superintendent will begin on January 1. The interim superintendent the board hires now will be a full-time acting superintendent, he said.

Ambrose had also indicated on Thursday that the board was going to hire an interim superintendent now until June 30, 2018 and begin a more extensive search January 1.

He said a lengthier search process was historically more successful and would give potential candidates more time to find out more about Morgan County Schools and Morgan County, the climate, culture, community involvement and expectations to weigh their options. Ambrose said they had a small pool of applicants because their search time was limited with Superintendent David Banks’ June 6 resignation.

The board’s goal was to have someone in place by August 1 before Banks left in mid-August for his new position as Berkeley County Schools assistant superintendent in charge of special education. Banks’ effective resignation date is still undetermined. The board is giving some discretion and latitude on that so Banks can wrap up things here, Ambrose said.

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