Board members surprised by Knost’s request

Knost leaving district in ‘capable hands,’ Stoner says

By Gloria Lloyd

Mehlville Board of Education members were surprised at Superintendent Eric Knost’s request Monday night that the board release him from his contract, according to board President Mark Stoner.

During Monday’s closed session, board members voted unanimously to release Knost from his contract, effective June 30.

Knost is the finalist for the superintendent’s job in the Rockwood School District, and the Rockwood Board of Education is scheduled to vote Thursday on approving a contract with Knost for the position, effective July 1.

Board members recently completed Knost’s annual evaluation and had planned to discuss his contract during the closed session, according to Stoner. But Knost asked to address the board at the start of the closed meeting, and that’s when he made his request.

“It’s a sad time, but a happy time for us. If you think about this, it’s opportunity, and you’re sad to see somebody go. But whenever there’s something that changes, it always brings new opportunity,” Stoner told the Call.

Stoner said the district has very capable leadership from its assistant superintendents — Brian Lane, Lisa Counts and Tina Plummer — plus Jeff Bresler, executive director of student services.

“Really when you think about this, he’s really left the district in some very capable hands and we’re going to keep moving forward with the progress that we’ve made,” he said.

At this point, no special board meetings have been scheduled to discuss the superintendent’s post, according to Stoner.

“The board is already laying the groundwork to talk internally with people to gather their thoughts and see who would be capable. Hopefully, we can find that in the district, but it may or may not be the case,” the board president said. “Obviously, it comes at an awkward time with the election — the next board meeting, I’m going to be handing the gavel to somebody else.”

Stoner and board member Elaine Powers are not seeking re-election in the Tuesday, April 8, election in which three board seats will be filled. Board Secretary Rich Franz, Randy L. Howard, Venki Palamand, Jean Pretto and Samantha Stormer are seeking election.

Stoner said the new board most likely will determine what direction to take to fill the superintendent’s post — whether to name an interim superintendent for the 2014-2015 year or conduct an immediate search for a replacement.

However, he said the culture of the current board is one that emphasizes transparency, and so he surmises that the next board will want a superintendent who continues with the transparency that Knost developed.

“That (right) person is out there — it is out there for Mehlville,” Stoner said. “Whether they work in Mehlville now and need to spread their wings a little bit, or are somewhere else hoping to get the opportunity, superintendent positions do not open up every day. I expect there will be a lot of interest.”

“Obviously, I’m sad to see Eric go, but I think it’s an opportunity for him. People will sometimes look at opportunities, and it’s just the right time for them. I’m happy for him. He’s kind of returning home.”

Knost, who has served as Mehlville superintendent since July 2011, served as assistant principal at Woerther Elementary School in Rockwood from 1996 to 1997, director of bands at Marquette High School in Rockwood from 1993 to 1996 and assistant band director at Lafayette High School in Rockwood from 1989 to 1993.