The SAU board has made an art of grasping an issue squarely by the shoulders, looking into its eyes, and then failing to say a word to it. Last night was a masterful example. I attended the March 27th SAU meeting to hear discussion on agenda items “Assistant Superintendent Position,” “Policies (CBI, CBI-R and BBBH),” “Superintendent’s Evaluation Process.”
There was much discussion of limiting the employment search to internal candidates or opening it up more broadly. Thankfully, Mr. Barczak’s comment that a quality internal candidate will rise to the top even with a broader regional search (without the expense of a search agency) won the discussion. With this, Dr. Metzler and his staff are free to advertise the position and solicit candidates. Just one problem. No one has defined the role and responsibilities of the new Assistant Superintendent, a topic the board so skillfully danced around it would have been comical had it been less important.** Will the new Assistant Superintendent be an “Acting Superintendent” for Hampstead as Mr. Feneberg is, or will the position revert to its original function? Who knows? Dr. Metzler intimated at the meeting that the role may be determined by the winning candidate’s skill set. Forgive me, but does this seem backwards to you? Don’t you know what needs to get done and then hire the best person to perform that function? As I see it, the SAU board’s delicacy about the political issue with Hampstead trumps good management.
There was also long discussion on who should evaluate the Assistant Superintendent — the SAU Board, the Superintendent, or some combination of the two. Current policy BBH (Organization and Operation of the School Administrative Unit School Board) mentions evaluating only the Superintendent, but Procedure Code CBI-R (Evaluation of the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent) states that the SAU board will evaluate both positions annually. No decision was reached but the consensus I perceived makes me think that when the next draft of the policy and procedure documentation is circulated, the Superintendent will be charged with evaluating the Assistant Superintendent with input from the SAU board. We’ll see.
I worry that I am seeing a pattern here in which an indecisive board passes off many of its primary responsibilities to our new Superintendent. Dr. Metzler is both capable and energetic so under his direction this may not be bad in practice, but it is ill-advised for the SAU board to formally divest itself of so much of its function. Hire now and let Dr. Metzler define a function later is a good example of this. [See note that follows]
**Update: Dr. Metzler has pointed out that the candidate search will be done with the current and unchanged job description. I welcome and appreciate the feedback, but it does not answer the question of the future Assistant’s actual role.