by Angie Asam–Staff Writer
David O’Bryant may soon be the new part-time superintendent for Rogers City Area Schools (RCAS). O’Bryant currently serves as the secondary principal and athletic director for the district.
By a 4-1 vote Monday (April 11) the RCAS Board of Education authorized the hiring of O’Bryant subject to a negotiated contract between interim superintendent Lee Sandy, board president John Krajenta and O’Bryant. Board member Bryan Hall voted against the hiring. Board members Deedra Haselhuhn and Don Kromer were absent from the meeting.
If an agreement is reached, the board will be looking to hire a new high school principal.
On June 30, 2015 the board accepted the resignation of Katy Makowski who had served as the district’s superintendent and elementary principal. She hired on as superintendent in 2011.
At that time the board hired Sandy as interim superintendent for the school year. Last October the board advertised for a superintendent/principal position. On Dec. 21, 2015 the board interviewed O’Bryant and Ron Kraft for the position. The board chose not to hire either candidate at that time.
In late February the board approved posting a superintendent/elementary principal position. After a public forum and hearing comments from teachers, staff, parents and community members the board again changed directions.
The planning and finance committee met March 21 and investigated if the district could afford hiring a part-time superintendent and keeping a high school principal and elementary principal, effectively giving the district two and one-half administrators.
Finance committee members Ivy Cook, Cory Budnick and Frank Andrews came to the board with the recommendation to hire O’Bryant Monday evening.
“Based on certain scenarios we could afford it. After the recent posting things were leaning more towards a part-time superintendent and three administrators versus two combined,” said finance chair Cook.
At that time vice president Bryan Hall asked about the scenarios Cook referred to. Cost saving ideas were discussed at that finance meeting as well as a retirement incentive plan. Cook told the board that the retirement incentive savings alone could cover the cost of the part-time superintendent.
Cook said the committee chose not to take action to implement any of the other cost savings mechanisms suggested at this time, leaving those to a superintendent during this transition period.
Hall’s concern was looking at the budget deficit and how much the district would be spending out of its fund equity. “I think it is going to be close to the 10 percent,” said Sandy. Policy states that the board keep at least 10 percent of a year’s operating budget in the fund equity. Sandy also mentioned that if some employees took the early retirement incentive the district could choose not to replace them resulting in more savings.
Cook moved “that the Board of Education authorize the hiring of Mr. David O’Bryant as part-time superintendent of the Rogers City Area Schools subject to a negotiated contract between interim superintendent Lee Sandy, board president John Krajenta and Mr. O’Bryant.” Budnick supported the motion.
AT THAT time Krajenta asked for board comments or questions on the motion.
“Would it be appropriate to ask Mr. O’Bryant about his name in the newspaper, what is your intention,” asked Andrews. He was referring to the Advance article last week stating that O’Bryant was a finalist for the superintendent position at Benzie Central Schools.
“My intention as far as that position? My intention is that I will go to the interview, I will sit down and negotiate a contract. If a contract is reached here and agreeable to both sides I will withdraw my name,” said O’Bryant
Hall then spoke of his concerns. “I don’t think it is being fiscally responsible taking our fund equity down that low that quick. We are spending right down to the minimum by policy. We are basing things on tentative cost reductions,” he said.
“My opinion on the matter is, I understand what Bryan is saying and respect that, but we are avoiding a split which seems from outreach of parents and teachers and everyone else a good idea,” said Budnick.
Krajenta told the school community at the beginning of the year that this would be a year of change in the district.
“Obviously there have been major changes within our school system. This is just another major change. Whether it brings stability, that would be the hope. Having two and one-half administrators in the school system would be a plus but at a cost,” said Krajenta.
“I can see Bryan’s point. We tried doing the split posting, that didn’t go so well. We’ve heard from the search team that looking for a part-time superintendent is difficult. I think the numbers that we are looking at, there is a lot of unknown there. We are thinking of the doom and gloom and it could be better. There was a lot of cost saving ideas presented to the finance committee. There are some that I think are actually a little bit of low hanging fruit that could be easily implemented,” said Cook.
The vote was then taken and the motion passed. If a contract is negotiated the board will be looking to hire a new high school principal.
IN OTHER SCHOOL BOARD NEWS:
• By another 4-1 vote with Hall being against the motion the board approved offering a retirement incentive to union employees within the district. Hall said he felt the move was a short-term solution to the problems and thought the district needed to cut spending. According to Sandy if one employee retires the incentive would save the district $15,000 and the number goes up as the number that take part rises.
• The board accepted the resignation of Peter Scott, middle school/high school teacher. O’Bryant told the board that he had received an e-mail the Friday of spring break that indicated Scott would not be returning. No explanation for the resignation was given. O’Bryant told the board he tried to contact Scott via telephone but did not reach him. Krajenta asked him to continue to try to reach him and get an explanation.