Mehlville school board to interview all nine candidates for vacant seat

If necessary, second round of interviews slated June 30.

By EVAN YOUNG

The nine candidates seeking appointment to a vacant seat on the Mehlville Board of Education could know who gets the job as early as the day after they’re interviewed.

The board is seeking someone to fill the seat vacated by former board member Micheal Ocello, who resigned in April. Whoever is appointed will serve until next April, when the seat is up for election for a three-year term.

Board members will interview all nine candidates beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, in the library of Mehlville Senior High School, 3200 Lemay Ferry Road.

The school board then will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30, in the Administration Building, 3120 Lemay Ferry Road, to review the candidates and decide on the appointment.

If needed, the board will conduct a second round of interviews with candidates June 30 at the same time and place. If that is the case, the board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 1, in the Administration Building to decide on the appointment.

The candidates, in the order which they applied and will be interviewed, are: Ken Leach, David Wessel, Michael Gindler, Greg Frigerio, Timothy Champion, Marea Kluth-Hoppe, Fred Padberg, Aaron Hilmer and Ronald Fedorchak.

Another candidate, Gary “Brit” Rose, who was the first to apply, has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Board policy states the board “may select final candidates from the applicants.”

However, board members on Saturday did not object to interviewing all nine applicants.

Vice President Larry Felton said he consulted with several other districts on the issue, including Lindbergh Schools, whose Board of Education interviewed all applicants before filling a vacancy in 2010.

“They said we should probably interview them all, unless there’s something that jumps out in their summaries, their bios, their nominations that would make for a clear separation,” Felton said during Saturday’s special board meeting.

Candidates each will participate in a 20-minute interview, during which they will make opening and closing statements and will be asked a series of prepared questions by the board.

The district’s human resources department will craft the questions based on topics board members suggested Saturday.

Among the topics put forward: district finances and funding; curriculum and student achievement; and the board’s relationship with its members, the administration, district staff and community.

“My idea would be effectively to have some of the questions be questions you kind of bait (the candidates) with an overarching theme … and then maybe in the midst of all that there would be one or two very specific questions related to a Mehlville scenario so you kind of get both ends of the spectrum …,” Deputy Superintendent Eric Knost told the board.

Felton suggested the board ask questions pertaining to transportation and parent involvement. Board member Mark Stoner suggested questions about facilities and “employee relations.”

“I think you’re looking at overall staff levels, student-teacher ratio. I think you’re looking at a potential compensation plan โ€” just a number of things that going into creating great morale in any organization,” Stoner said.

Board member Rich Franz suggested the candidates give their views on technology, “establishing budget priorities” and “the evaluation process currently in place for certified and non-certified employees and what ideas they might have for changing that.”

Board Secretary Elaine Powers suggested asking candidates how long they wish to serve on the board.

“… Because even just reading the application letters, there are some who are saying: ‘I am looking at this purely as from the time I am appointed until next April and I’m done.’ And there are others I believe who are saying: ‘I’m in this for the long haul.’ And I think it’s important to explore that a little bit,” Powers said.

She added, “Something that came up a whole lot when we were campaigning is the relationship with the community in general โ€” however you define that โ€” but that’s something that when I was out in public people asked me about …

“I think it’s important that we try to align this process with what the people in the community thought was important in the last election cycle …”