Philomath School District Office artwork

The Philomath School Board Thursday night agreed to hire the Oregon School Boards Association to help with the external search for an interim superintendent but at the same time made it clear that an internal candidate was to be considered.

Board members had met with the unnamed candidate in executive session Thursday prior to the open meeting. However, the candidate later opted to withdraw from consideration for the job.

The internal candidate’s identity was not revealed with school board chair Jim Kildea saying it needed to remain confidential until the board could go through the screening process. When the board decides upon its finalists, then public input enters the picture.

“The board hasn’t voted on it yet, but I’m pretty confident that the board is going to want to have that public forum when we get to having a short list of finalists,” Kildea said. “Rather than the approach that Albany took where everything was kinda held behind the screen, I don’t think this board would ever want to do that. I think we’re going to want to have public input on the candidates.”

With no other internal candidates showing interest, it appears the school board will move full steam ahead on hiring an interim superintendent from outside the district.

The big question now becomes whether or not the board can bring in an interim superintendent before Melissa Goff ends her employment with the district at the end of next month. Goff begins her contract with the Greater Albany Public Schools District on July 1.

Keeping an eye on the timeline, the board as a whole seemed to believe that it could be done. Shelley Niemann appeared to be the most concerned about the challenges with the hiring timeline and originally had hoped to move forward with the local prospect.

“My preference would be in the interest of time and allowing more training to occur with Melissa, to consider furthering our interest in the internal candidate and from there, considering the OSBA for assistance for the full search beginning shortly thereafter,” she said Thursday night before it was known that the candidate would withdraw. “I think it’s important to get someone in place as soon as possible to utilize the time Melissa has left.”

The OSBA’s bid came in at $9,500 for the full search of both an interim and permanent superintendent. Plus, 12 hours of professional development for the interim superintendent and two new school board members were included.

Board member Shelly Brown felt the OSBA bid was a good value and the others appeared to agree.

“Honestly as I look at this, I thought the OSBA proposal was very reasonable,” Kildea said. “When we talked the other night, it looked like the proposals started at $10,000 and went up from there.”

Board member Greg Gerding described the OSBA search option as a “win-win” for the district in terms of factors such as the professional development, but he also added, that the internal candidate should not be discounted.

Board member Rick Wells suggested that Kildea, who is the board chair, enter into a conversation with the OSBA to speed up its process so the Philomath district could realistically get an interim superintendent in place before Goff leaves.

The board in separate votes also adopted qualifications for the job and approved of a recommended salary range of $120,000 to $125,000.

Also during the evening, the board approved a resolution to recognize Teacher Appreciation Week.

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