Philomath School District building
Philomath School District (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Philomath School Board approved and adopted various motions Monday night to move forward with its search for a permanent superintendent but one longtime board member believes the process should be halted, keep interim superintendent Susan Halliday in place and instead focus on helping students and families work through pandemic-related challenges.

Board member Jim Kildea voted against motions to declare the position vacant, hiring the Oregon School Boards Association to head up the search and adopting the search calendar.

“My general sense is we ought to be spending more time on how to help our kids and families in the community,” Kildea said. “So we’re going to spend hours and hours on this in February and March and my personal opinion is that we ought to be spending more time on how to help the kids. That’s all I’m going to say — that’s my opinion.”

Kildea said he believes Halliday has done a great job and shared his perspective of a board member who’s been through the hiring process in the past.

“This is going to be my fourth or fifth superintendent search and I know how it’s going to go,” he said. “We’re going to get 40, 50 applicants, go through a boatload of applications and at the end of the day, we’re going to whittle it down. We could spend a lot of time on this.”

Kildea acknowledged that the school board made a commitment to the community to hire an interim superintendent for one year before moving on with a final hire, but added, “I just think we also made a commitment to the community to look after the kids.”

Board chair Shelley Niemann said that she agreed with a lot of what Kildea had been sharing, including Halliday’s “tremendous job” in the interim role, but did not want to waver from the original plan.

“I think given that we had made a commitment to the community and those that were involved in the last search that we were committed to looking for an interim superintendent and that we would move forward with the search for a permanent superintendent,” she said.

The board opened the discussion by approving qualities and qualifications based on results of a community survey. OSBA consultant Sarah Herb conducted the survey and said there was very good participation with 293 responses. The board adopted the Q-and-Qs on a 4-0 vote.

The board formally declared the position vacant as of July 1, 2021, which Herb said is required to be able to go into executive session later in the search process to discuss applicants. The vote was approved on a 3-1 vote.

The board also officially hired the OSBA to lead the superintendent search and approved the proposed search calendar on 3-1 votes.

Key dates on the search calendar include Dec. 23-Feb. 3 for the position to be open and to receive applications, Jan. 25 for selection of a screening committee, Feb. 16-March 1 for screening and ranking applications, March 2 for selecting candidates to interview, March 11-14 to conduct initial interviews, March 30-31 for a “finalists forum” in the community and April 1-7 for contract negotiations. The board could finalize the hire at its April 19 regular board meeting or sooner if it wanted to call a special meeting.

The board decided upon a screening committee that will include representatives from various school-related groups or organizations, along with at-large positions from the community. The size of the committee is to be determined but could run anywhere from 10 to 15 people, those numbers in addition to school board members.

Finally, the board decided upon a salary range to include in the advertisement of $135,000 to $145,000 per year.