Forum on superintendent opportunity for residents

“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Mehlville School District residents who want to voice their opinions about the qualities they’d like to see in the district’s new superintendent will have their chance during a forum tonight — Thursday, Dec. 11.

The forum, which will be led by Missouri School Boards’ Association superintendent search consultant Brent Underwood, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Nottelmann Auditorium on the Mehlville High School campus, 3200 Lemay Ferry Road.

We recognize that not all Board of Education members are pleased with the majority’s decision to hire Underwood, a former Mehlville south area superintendent, to find the district’s next superintendent. That said, we like the fact that residents’ opinions are being sought about the qualities they want to see in Mehlville’s next superintendent at tonight’s forum.

Given the importance of finding the right person to become Mehlville’s next superintendent, we believe public input is a necessity in the search.

But that wasn’t the case when then-Superintendent Terry Noble announced his resignation on Dec. 1, 2010 — roughly a month after voters trounced a proposed 88-cent tax-rate increase that was placed on the ballot by an out-of-touch school board. Instead of conducting a superintendent search, the board, led by then-President Tom Diehl, went into a closed session and emerged with a new superintendent, Eric Knost.

Under district policy, the board is solely responsible for hiring a superintendent. But the board’s decision to suddenly emerge from closed session with a new superintendent would appear to violate district policy, which states, “The board will conduct an active search to find the individual believed most capable of putting into action the policies of the board, while it remains cognizant of the aspirations of the community and of the professional and support staff.”

We’re not disparaging Knost, who we believe did an outstanding job as Mehlville superintendent before departing for the Rockwood School District last summer to serve as its superintendent. However, it is a knock against the leadership of the school board at that time, given its arrogant disregard of district policy.

So despite some current board members’ reservations with MSBA as the search consultant, we’re glad to see residents will have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the qualities they desire in Mehlville’s new leader. We urge them to take advantage of the opportunity and attend tonight’s forum.