The search to find Bossier Schools’ new superintendent is underway.
The process began immediately after current Superintendent D.C. Machen, Jr. announced he would be retiring, with a tentative date of July 1, 2016. The Bossier Parish School Board voted to have Machen’s successor named at a special meeting on May 3, 2016, Bossier Schools public relations liaison Sonja Bailes told the Press-Tribune.
The process began with a committee of five, but the board has since voted to include all 12 members in the search committee. Mike Mosura (Dist. 5) said at the March 17 board meeting that he wants this process to be open and transparent, noting some behind the scenes chit chat between board members.
“We have a timeline established and know the date we will select a superintendent,” Mosura said. “If there’s anything that needs to be put out on the table, let’s get it over with.”
And so they did.
School Board Vice President Frank Kelly (Dist. 3) expressed concern about how many board members would get a say when it came time to nominate an applicant for the position.
“What we have done in the search committee is identify five board members who are going to name one candidate for the board to vote on. I am opposed to this plan,” Kelly said to the board during its March 17 meeting. “A committee of five with a majority of three out of all 12 of us will determine who is recommended to the board as the next superintendent. Let’s put it into perspective. The entire board votes to approve the purchase of frozen vegetables. The entire board votes to approve field trips out of the parish. We vote as an entire board to salvage old desks and old computers. I believe the selection of a new superintendent deserves the attention of every board member and every district should be fully represented by their board member.”
Board President Sandra “Samm” Darby (Dist. 10) appointed Mosura as chairman of the search committee March 3, following Machen’s retirement announcement at the conclusion of the school board meeting. Mosura then selected Dennis Bamburg, Jr. (Dist. 12), Brad Bockhaus (Dist. 2), Glen Bullard (Dist. 6) and Bill Lott (Dist. 4) to be part of the search committee.
Kelly made a motion that it be changed to a committee of the whole, where “every board member gets to participate equally and vote instead of relying on a committee, with a majority of three, to nominate one name.”
Following the motion, Superintendent Machen apologized for any misleading information that may have been given at a previous meeting about how the selection process worked.
“The night I rendered my letter of pending retirement, I actually made a recommendation that President Darby appoint a chairman of a committee to begin to explore the options available in determining the superintendent,” Machen said. “There was a discussion at that time as to whether the board wanted to seek an outside source to come in and assist in the process. The question was directed to me at that time and I apologize if I was not clear in my response and assessment. Mr. Kelly’s motion is fine. I do want to clarify any misunderstanding that the committee that was appointed was going to be the only ones to participate in the selection process.”
Kelly then referred back to the minutes of the March 9 search committee meeting.
“What’s clear to this board member is that it’s in the minutes and we just approved them – that the superintendent search committee intends to recommend one candidate to the board. I’m opposed to that. I think all board members should be involved and we should not rely on a committee of five with a majority of three to recommend one name to the board.”
Shane Cheatham (Dist. 11) said he, too, had a problem with what was in the minutes regarding only one candidate being brought to the entire board for a vote.
“I’m not sure if that’s the way it was meant to be put out there or not, but that statement in the minutes basically says there is only going to be one person brought to us to vote [on],” Cheatham said.
He also had a problem with an e-mail that was sent to committee members only.
“As board members, we really only have two jobs – one his to hire or fire the superintendent and one is the spend the tax payer’s money wisely. I do believe that a full board decision might be in our best interest that way there’s not one board member or five board members that think they are left out,” Cheatham said. “Personally, I have no problem not being part of the committee, but if we are going to have a committee, it needs to bring more than one name to the full board. Maybe that’s where we are mistaken of what was said.”
Darby said she feels as though the committee of five represented each area of the district well.
“I believe that no one will be left out on purpose,” Darby said. “In my opinion, we should keep the committee and let them keep us abreast. Then we will meet and make a decision as a whole.”
Kelly responded by saying that’s not what is published in the minutes, which were approved by the board. Lott seconded Kelly’s motion, stating that he believes the parish and school district would be best served if all board members were involved in naming candidates for the position.
Bullard said this decision will ultimately be made by the entire board, no matter how many of them are on the committee.
“The hang up is on a misstatement in the minutes of the meeting. That was not the intent,” Bullard said. “There are going to be 12 people sitting there regardless of what happens in committee.”
Mosura said the issue should have been discussed before the board’s regular session meeting.
“A committee of the whole is fine with me. The intent was always to be transparent and upfront,” Mosura said. “We have to do this for the public. This isn’t about individual board members. I’ve been through this before. It has to do with selecting the right person that the community is going to be satisfied with.”
Billie Jo Brotherton (Dist. 1) applauded Mosura’s work with the committee, but agreed that it should be made into a committee of the whole.
“This is the most important decision we’re going to ever make,” Brotherton said. “This is our duty. We need to get along and work together to get this done.”
Machen apologized to the board again, adding that was is his responsibility to review the minutes.
The motion to make a search committee of the whole passed with an 11-1 vote. Darby was the only one to cast a vote against it.
The approved motion included Mosura as the committee’s chairman.