Mehlville superintendent candidates to be interviewed this week

By MIKE ANTHONY

The Mehlville Board of Education is scheduled to interview candidates this week for the school district’s soon-to-be vacated superintendent’s post.

Board of Education President Ken Leach told the Call Friday that candidates for the superintendent’s post would be interviewed by the board during closed sessions Wednesday, May 17, and Thursday, May 18.

The board voted in early March to hire the Missouri School Boards Association to conduct a search for a new superintendent to replace Tim Ricker, who will retire June 30. The cost of the search will be $14,500, plus expenses not to exceed an additional $1,500.

During a closed session May 11, an MSBA representative presented a list of superintendent candidates to the board, which agreed to interview some of those candidates this week. School administrators’ contracts run from July 1 to June 30, and Leach said the possibility exists that the board may consider hiring an interim superintendent for the coming school year.

“We took the next step, which is good because obviously there’s going to be time constraints here … (But) we should have time to review the candidates that we’re interested in and be able to make a decision on whether or not this is something we want to go forward with this year and secure someone, or to maybe delay it and at that point then I guess it would be an interim type of thing. We figured, well, let’s look at what we’ve got first and let’s interview them …

“But MSBA, they brought us the candidates and this late in the (school) year, that’s a pretty good job for them to bring us these candidates like this,” he added.

In fact, Leach said the MSBA representative told Mehlville board members that the quality of the candidates applying for the superintendent’s post “is finer than what they’ve seen at other places” during recent searches in the St. Louis region.

“We’re going to be a little bit under the gun here, but it seems like we’ve got an opportunity and they’ve given us some candidates I think that are qualified, and I’m anxious to see them,” Leach said.

Board member Tom Diehl said, “I think it’s safe to say on paper we’ve got some good candidates to interview. We just need to find someone who is compatible and a fit for Mehlville and someone who’s got a vision that will motivate and excite the general community.”

After this week’s interviews, Leach said the next step for board members will be to narrow down the number of candidates and have the ones they like best return for a second interview.

“I think that would be appropriate. Then you can focus a little bit more in depth and then make a selection or not make a selection,” he said.

Diehl said, “I think it’s safe to say that all the members on the school board are on the same page as far as wanting to get the best person in here to be our superintendent, and we’re looking for someone who will hopefully stay for a long time.”

Ricker has served as Mehlville superintendent since July 1, 2003. He was selected by the Board of Education on Jan. 6, 2003, to replace retiring Superintendent John Cary.

Ricker’s resignation was accepted by the Board of Education during a Feb. 9 closed session.

In a letter to the board, Ricker emphasized that his decision was not related to the voter’s Feb. 7 rejection of Proposition A, a 97-cent tax-rate increase.

On Feb. 15, the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Ricker as superintendent. Ricker will take over for interim Superintendent Art Jones, according to a Feb. 16 news release issued by the Lemont-Bromberek School District, an elementary district with four schools in Lemont, Ill.

In a separate matter, the Board of Education voted unanimously during an open session May 11 to approve contracts for 24 teachers and two guidance counselors for the coming school year.

The board previously had voted during a March 23 closed session not to renew the contracts of many of those teachers. At the time, district officials had said they were optimistic that most of those teachers would be rehired at a later date due to retirements and attrition.

Before the board voted last week, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources A.D. McClain said that only a handful of teachers weren’t being hired back.

Noting the district has 708 teachers this year, he said, “… We’re looking at next year having approximately 26 fewer positions. We’ve had over 50 retirements, and so when you put that all together, now what we’re able to do in terms of ‘bringing people back,’ this list in front of you will bring many of those people back that were on those other lists. As a matter of fact, it will bring back all but three or four full-time people, two of whom left to go other places because of travel. They took positions in other districts that were closer to their home …”

On Friday, when asked if the 26 fewer teaching positions were based on financial or enrollment issues, McClain replied, “It’s a combination of both.”