Board, superintendents debate on selection process for new St. Michael-Albertville High School principal
With Principal Dale Carlson's retirement just a few months away, the board and administration bantered as they searched for a solution.
With current high school Principal Dale Carlson retiring at the end of this school year, the St. Michael-Albertville school board and superintendents debated – and sometimes strongly disagreed – on how involved the school board ought to be in the hiring process.
Superintendent-elect Dr. Jim Behle said it was important for all the stakeholders' opinions to be heard regarding what qualities they would like to see in a high school principal, including high school staff, students, parents, district administrators and the schools board. However, Behle suggested that the board take a more hands-off approach than they are accustomed to when it comes down to the actual hiring process.
Behle suggested that the board members offer their opinions on what characteristics they would like to see in the new principal, but added they would not be involved in the hiring process until he and Superintendent Dr. Marcia Ziegler come forward with a recommendation. In contrast, the board was involved right from the beginning with some previous principal hires, from looking through applications and interviewing candidates as a board.
"It goes along with the role of the board to delegate responsibilities for operation of the district, and I think it makes it a little cleaner in the sense of who that person is accountable to," Behle said.
This proposed change did not sit well with some of the board members.
"This isn't a small change from how we've done it; this is a drastic change," board member Drew Scherber said. "I'm not sure we need to do what we did before, but I don't think we need to totally remove ourselves. That's a total 180 from what we've done, and I'm not sure I'm on board with that."
Most of the other board members echoed Scherber's sentiments, saying they would feel more comfortable having one or two representatives from the board sitting in on the interviews, at least in the final round.
"The high school principal is a very key person in the school district, and I think as a board member that I should take some responsibility for who we hire for that important position," board member Gayle Weber said. "I certainly mean no offense to Jim [Behle], but I think those of us who have been in the community longer have a greater understanding of what the people of St. Michael-Albertville want in their high school principal."
The board ultimately decided that two board representatives will sit in on the final round of interviews in an advisory role only, offering interview questions for the superintendents and giving the superintendents their opinion after the interviews take place.
The board does have final say on contract approval as part of the normal hiring process, as it does for all educational staff in the district.