Mehlville school board secures Chambers through 2007-’08 school year

Jerry Chambers

Jerry Chambers

Staff Report

The Mehlville School District will gain a new superintendent July 1, but also has secured the services of interim Superintendent Jerry Chambers through the 2007-2008 school year.

In a Dec. 14 closed session, the Board of Education voted 7-0 to enter into a contract with Chambers and Access Management Group Inc. for the coming school year.

Board member Micheal Ocello made the motion to hire Chambers for another school year, and that motion was seconded by board member Tom Diehl.

The agreement authorizes Chambers to provide consulting services requested by the administration, according to a district news release. These include various day-to-day administrative functions, special projects and other items requested and assigned by the Board of Education and future Superintendent Terry Noble, who proposed hiring Chambers through the 2007-2008 school year.

The contract with Access Management authorizes fees not to exceed $55,000.

Chambers told the Call after last week’s vote that he is grateful to Noble for wanting to continue Chambers’ employment with the school district.

“To be blunt, I was reluctant when first approached by Terry Noble,” Chambers told the Call. “I’ve been a superintendent for a long time and was skeptical about what role I could play that would not supplant some of his own efforts and roles.

“But the more I talked to Terry Noble, (Deputy Superintendent) Eric (Knost) and school-board members, I was flattered that they felt I would be a good addition to that team of administrators. Terry himself felt that I have some skills that he would like to capitalize on for another year. And he felt that our two styles and our set of skills, though quite different, really supplement one another.”

Chambers originally was hired by a unanimous vote in June as the district’s interim superintendent. He will continue to work in that role until Noble takes the position of permanent superintendent on July 1.

Noble, who currently serves as superintendent of the De Soto School District, also was unanimously hired by the board in September. In May, the Board of Education had voted to extend a three-year contract to Noble, but he could not yet accept it because the De Soto Board of Education would not release him from his contract. As a result, Chambers was hired as interim superintendent in June.

Chambers, a Fulbright Scholar and the 1999 recipient of the Pearce Award as Out-standing Missouri Superintendent, served 10 years as superintendent of the Washington School District in Washington before retiring in 2000.

With the rest of this school year and another to follow, Chambers said he is “having fun” in his interim role and is pleased he will be a part of the district into 2008.

“I was turned around, persuaded that it would be a great thing to come back,” he said. “I’ve become very attached to the Mehlville district and very impressed with the Mehlville School District community or the Mehlville-Oakville family, if you will. And that attachment has also played a factor in my agreeing to come back another year. So I’m hopeful that working with Terry and the board, we can accomplish a great deal in 2007 and 2008 and have a smooth transition from my leadership to the new leadership that Terry Noble brings to the district.”

The Board of Education also voted unanimously in the Dec. 14 closed session to approve a contract with Access Management Group Inc. for the remainder of the 2006-2007 school year. The motion was made by Diehl and seconded by board member Tom Correnti.

The agreement, also proposed by Noble, authorizes Access Management to provide consulting services as requested by the administration on Human Resources Department procedures, including all day-to-day administrative functions, personnel interviews related to the hiring of potential employees, Human Resources/Business Office information interface, or payroll, and other items as requested by the Board of Education and/or superintendent.

The contract with AMG for the remainder of this school year authorizes fees not to exceed $56,000, the release stated.

Regarding the contract with Access Management for the remainder of the current school year, Chambers stated in the release, “Mr. Noble and I have been interested in reorganizing the Central Office administration for the remainder of the school year without disrupting the important work at the school level. Since (Associate Superintendent) A.D. McClain’s retirement, we have discussed various options with the Board of Education.

“Pulling a principal or administrator out of a school or other important position in midyear would only create other vacancies for the board to fill. Mr. Noble’s proposal to contract with AMG is a temporary way to operate the Office of Human Resources until a permanent director is appointed by the board. The board, Mr. Noble and I plan to advertise the position of human re-sources director early in 2007 and begin interviewing candidates for the position in February or March. The person selected for this important position will begin duties on July 1, 2007.”