District 46 school board to interview outgoing administrators

PRAIRIE GROVE ­– With just over two weeks left in some administrator contracts, the District 46 school board will conduct exit interviews, it decided Tuesday evening.

Three administrators – Assistant Principal Beth Klinsky, business manager Andrew Searle and Sandy Ozimek, the curriculum, assessment and learning coordinator – have accepted positions with other districts and are leaving at the conclusion of their contracts, which are up at the end of June.

“My thoughts post-strike are that you can’t listen enough,” said Margaret Ponga, the new board president.

The board shouldn’t be involved in managing employees lower down than the administration, though, board member Lori McConville said.

Instead, the board should be empowering the leaders of the school who then oversee staff.

Like any member of the public, staff can approach the board at a public meeting to make a statement. They can also discuss their employment in closed session.

The exit interviews would be helpful in deciding whether changes could be – or should be – made with the administrative team, board member Khushali Shah said in a meeting marked with frequent arguments as the incumbent board warred with the new board members.

Board member Laura Barker had raised the possibility of not filling the assistant principal position as a discussion item for Tuesday’s meeting, but the board came to a consensus that there wasn’t enough time to make a decision on that for the coming school year.

A one-year contract would leave open the possibility for next year and give the board more time to investigate the possibilities, board Vice President Rick Salvo said.

Klinsky and Superintendent Lynette Zimmer recommended keeping the position.

“There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes,” Klinsky said, adding that eliminating any of the administration would affect students.

The Prairie Grove elementary and junior high schools share a principal and assistant principal. In the past, each school had a principal, but the positions were consolidated in light of declining enrollment.

The administration may look large for a district of Prairie Grove’s size – less than 800 students have enrolled for next year – but to reduce it further, the board would have to look at a consolidated kindergarten through eighth-grade building, Principal Victor Wight said.

The board should continue to look at enrollment and the district’s administration, Ponga said. It “should be responsive if the bank is full and if it’s not full.”

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