Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Last month Dr. Ronnie Dotson said it wasn’t the right time to leave the district when he withdrew his planned resignation and agreed to stay on for another year. Among the reasons he noted were the number of building and improvement projects that were in the works for the district, and the fact that this was not a good time of year to begin a superintendent search.
In special session on Friday, however, the board moved to accept Dotson’s resignation on his original retirement timeline. This timeline has him working through September 1 of this year, and resigning from his superintendent duties at that time. Dotson will then use accrued time off until he is eligible for retirement April 1, 2022.
According to the board’s attorney, Gary Conn, Dotson has earned the time, and the alternative would be a monetary payment for any unused time upon retirement.
Dotson was not available for comment on his decision. He and his wife, Judy Dotson, left abruptly before the meeting was over. As they left the building Dotson reportedly told another journalist on scene that they did not wish to comment at this time.
The board continued with their meeting, approving a superintendent search contract with the Kentucky School Board Association. The cost for the service is $6,000 plus mileage expenses for KSBA representative Don Martin, who will lead the search. Martin explained that the process will include forming a search committee to screen the candidates Martin submits to them. That search committee, he said, typically consists of six members; one board representative, one principal, two teachers, one classified employee, each chosen by their peers, and one parent chosen by the PTO.
The search committee will then present their recommendations to the board, who will make the final decision.
The board approved a timeline that will have them choosing a new candidate by November 1 as a full time replacement for Dr, Dotson. There was discussion, however, about whether it was better to wait until spring, or to pursue an even more aggressive schedule and find a replacement quicker. Board member Kirk Wilburn said he wanted a replacement as soon as October if possible.
“I don’t want to be in limbo,” Wilburn told the board.
But board members Lisa Ramey-Easterling and Rachel Fankell expressed concerns about rushing the process.
They also discussed the possibility of employing an interim superintendent and advertising for a full time superintendent in the spring.
Martin said they would have more candidates if they waited until spring, because of contractual obligations that might have already been made, but he was confident there would be people eager to interview for the position right away.
Board chair Ramey-Easterling directed all questions about the superintendent search to Martin.
Martin clarified some details about the process – including the timeline – as the board exited following adjournment of the meeting.
He said the November 1 date for naming a new superintendent would be a “moving target” but he hoped to have a list of recommendations from the search committee by the second week of October for the board to consider in executive session. Per KRS 61.810, discussions of personnel issues are allowed in executive session, but any decisions must be voted on in open session.
Martin also commented on the candidates for an interim position that he discussed with council during executive session, and said they would like to make a decision on one of those individuals or another candidate as soon as possible, to fill the gap between Dotson’s final day and the hiring of a new superintendent.
In response to Dotson’s statement last month about this being a bad time of year to begin a superintendent search, Martin acknowledged that “traditionally, most of our searches take place in the spring of the year.”
This was the second option Martin discussed with the board – waiting until next spring to advertise – which they rejected in favor of a November timeline. But he said it isn’t unheard of to begin the process later in the year.
“There is another district that is going through this right now with me,” he said. “And we had 18 applicants for that position when we went to the board last week. That’s a pretty good number.”
“That’s about the average that we have in the spring,” Martin continued. “Obviously there may be some contractual issues, if people are under contract in another district, which they would have to work out. So, yeah, when you don’t have a July 1 start date, it becomes a little bit cumbersome at times, but those hurdles are usually worked around.”
He said he was confident he could find interested, qualified candidates for the job.
“Carter County’s got a good reputation – academic reputation – and I think that we’ll have a good number that will apply for this position,” Martin said.
Martin will solicit feedback from the community on what qualities they are looking for in a new superintendent in an open forum currently scheduled for August 9 at 6 p.m. Location to be determined.
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