Board debates four hours, but has no announcement on superintendent job

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | 11:09 p.m. CST; updated 10:48 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 18, 2009

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Public School Board met Tuesday night to discuss the final candidates for superintendent. But after nearly four hours, no announcement was made. 

"We, as a board – as we anticipated – do not have a comment for you," said Board President Michelle Gadbois.  


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Gadbois said that there were "more processes to go through" before a final decision is made.  

When asked what those remaining steps were, Gadbois declined to comment. 

"We will be meeting again in the next couple of days," Gadbois said.

All other members of the school board were unavailable for comment after the meeting.

On Monday, Steve Calloway, vice president of the school board, said that the board is in no rush to make the decision and is taking its time.

"We want to come to a unanimous decision," Calloway said. "What will it take us to  get there?  (It) may require more discussion."

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Ray Shapiro February 18, 2009 | 12:58 a.m.

(Excerpts from SchoolHouseTalk)
Columbia Public School Board Vice President Steve Calloway said it’s possible the board will choose....

...Calloway’s desire for a unanimous vote could further delay the board’s final decision.

“I would love to have the entire board agree on one candidate,” Calloway said.

He said it would send the wrong message if the vote were divided.
A 5-2 decision would communicate that the new superintendent didn’t have the full support of the board.

...“It’s a difficult decision. I suspect we won’t have a decision (Tuesday).”

Maybe if you do get a unanimous decision, it's going to be under duress anyway.
Maybe it's just better to take a vote and go with the majority.
Those who are in the minority will find out if they were right or wrong later.
They may even learn to like the guy who wins.
Unanimous decisions aren't all they're cracked up to be.
In this case, CPS is looking for some good P.R.
Just give Superintendent Dr. Chris Belcher the job and let's get on with it.

(Report Comment)
Mike Sykuta February 18, 2009 | 8:44 a.m.

Has anyone inquired with the school district attorney (or other legal authority) on the legality of accepting a late applicant without opening up the process to other would-be late applicants?

Of course, officially opening up the late window is no guarantee that uninvited applicants would be given serious consideration, but failure to open it up beyond the invited applicant would seem a violation of fair employment laws.

That said, I would agree with Mr. Shapiro's conclusion: hire the one candidate who was not only vetted through the entire process, but also best matches the criteria established from the beginning and received the more favorable reviews from his recent (public at least) interview sessions.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 18, 2009 | 9:43 a.m.

I'm not a lawyer, but I can't see how allowing a late applicant is a violation of labor law. That doesn't make it right necessarily, but I don't think there's a legal case to be made here. Any actual lawyers with an opinion?

(Report Comment)
Mike Sykuta February 18, 2009 | 10:25 a.m.

I know there are some pretty stringent guidelines concerning equal employment opportunity regulations. There certainly are at the university, anyhow, with respect to publicly advertising positions and such. I would expect similarly onerous rules for the public schools (and they do border on onerous in many occasions)...but I don't know the specific legalities involved. That's why I asked.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand February 18, 2009 | 11:32 a.m.

According to Jan Mees ( ), the late applicant was "brought in." Either she doesn't understand the difference between passive and active voice or she slipped up by saying that the board invited him to apply.

Taken at face value, her statement suggests that the board was so disappointed with the applicants that they invited someone who was not an applicant to apply.

(Report Comment)

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