NEWS HEADLINES

Alvord School Board tables committee plan, hires principal

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, May 24, 2014

After swearing in two new members and electing officers, the Alvord school board spent about 45 minutes Thursday night discussing selection committees for hiring new faculty members and principals.

Then they tabled the items.

Then they hired a new middle school principal.

The committee recommendation, brought up by new board president Vic Czerniak, was for committees to screen applicants and make recommendations to the principal – operating “independent of management.”

“Each principal must approve each teacher or staff appointment to the campus,” he said. “Upon the final decision of the committee a signed recommendation will be forwarded to the superintendent for recommendation to the board of trustees.”

Board member Larry Nivens asked what was the purpose of the item.

“For the committees to be able to operate independent of anybody that doesn’t have anything to do with that committee,” Czerniak said.

Kevin Wood, another board member, asked if the principal still had the ability to choose who they want.

“No,” Czerniak said. “They approve the recommendations.”

Wood said such a requirement would be illegal. Czerniak disagreed, and the two had a brief, terse exchange with Czerniak citing the Texas Education Code and Wood citing local policy.

“You cannot bind those principals to what a committee wants,” Wood said. “That principal has sole authority to recommend, at their discretion, the employees of that campus. They are held responsible for what goes on at that campus.”

Ultimately, Czerniak agreed. After other members weighed in on the issue, the board turned to elementary principal Bridget Williams and high school principal Rhett King, asking about their procedures for screening applicants during the hiring process.

Williams and King both use committees – but each cited cases in which the recommended rules might conflict with current practice.

Williams uses counselors and aides on those committees from time to time, and King noted he has several teachers who work on more than one campus and likes to have all the campuses involved represented on the committee. Both of those practices would be prohibited under the proposed policy.

Board member John Schedcik said the goal of the proposal was not to remove principals from the loop or tie their hands, but to “fine-tune” the current system.

“I don’t think there’s a big difference from what’s going on now,” he said. “This is just putting it on paper so we all kind of know where we’re at.”

Wood suggested tabling the proposal until principals have a chance to go over it – noting the current system seems to be working.

Board member Jimmy Looney agreed.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “Look at our staff over here. We’re one of the highest-rated schools in the state of Texas. Leave it alone.”

Czerniak went along with the idea to table it so that the principals can go over it. He also moved to table a separate proposal for principals selection committees.

The board also tabled a motion to “update superintendent evaluation forms to current standards” until they can hold a workshop.

MIDDLE SCHOOL GETS NEW PRINCIPAL

After a closed session, the board re-opened and voted unanimously to hire Michael Wayne Thurman as the new Alvord Middle School principal.

Thurman earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Oklahoma State University in 1993 and completed a master’s in educational administration at Tarleton State University in 2005.

He worked as a coach and teacher in the Norman, Okla., public schools 1993-99, then took a job in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD north of Fort Worth. He started there as a coach and teacher, then was named assistant principal at Creekview Middle School in 2004 – the position he is leaving to join Alvord ISD.

He replaces Janis Branum, who is retiring.

OTHER ACTION

Dealing with a lengthy agenda, the board also:

  • authorized a public auction of two properties that had been struck off of the tax roll after being seized for back taxes;
  • moved the Walker Scholarship CD from Citi-bank – which is closing its Wise County branch – to Legend Bank;
  • changed out signatures on several accounts to reflect the board’s new membership;
  • approved a $189,543 bid to repair the roof over the original portion of the high school;
  • approved expenditures of $94,125 for a new special-needs bus with a lift, and $96,589 for a new 77-passenger bus;
  • approved a software contract with Region 11 Education Service Center for business software;
  • heard reports from each campus as well as a pitch from AHS teacher Sharon Sackett for a greenhouse.

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