New superintendent already on the job : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|New superintendent already on the job|
|Filling administrative vacancies among Wendt's first tasks|
|by Lyle R. Rolfe|
Dr. Matthew Wendt won't officially become superintendent of the Oswego School District until July 1, but he's already on the job.
Two more district administrators resigned last week, so Wendt was asked if he was aware of this.
"I'm on the job. I'm aware of the recent resignations and I'm working on replacing them," he said.
Wendt said last weekend when interviewed at his home in Ankeny, Iowa, that he was going to be back in Oswego on Monday of this week to meet with Kristy Kuntz, executive director of human resources for the district, to discuss the procedure they will use to fill the two positions.
The two most recent resignations which were announced last week are Bryan Buck, principal of Plank Junior High at 510 Secretariat Lane, Oswego, and David Kennedy, assistant principal of Thompson Junior High at 440 Boulder Hill Pass, Oswego. Both are effective as of June 30.
The previous two administrators, also a principal and assistant principal, were replaced from a group of candidates who responded to job notices placed on the district's website. But time is short now so he wants to discuss possible alternates with Kuntz, he said.
"I will be talking to her about using the website, along with other recruiting processes," he said.
The last candidate interviews were done by a committee which included administrators and school board members, but Wendt said he did not know whether they would "have the luxury to do that this time" because of the time factor.
"One thing that concerns me is our timeline. I certainly want as many people involved as I can get. But at the same time, it's already mid-June. If we have good internal folks we may shorten the process by involving fewer people to insure that we get those positions filled," he said.
Wendt said he wants to keep the door open for a different process "...only because I don't want to have to be filling administrative positions in July. I want to get it wrapped up," he added.
When asked who will be setting the salaries he said they will be using comparable salaries as a guide.
"Our HR (Human Resources) department tracks low, mid-range and high range salaries in the area. The salaries will be based on the person's qualifications and experience. They will be aligned with what we are currently paying administrators and what the budget will allow," he added.
Salaries became an item of controversy when school board members gave the new finance and business superintendent an increase of $42,000 more than the present one.
The same thing happened when board members set Wendt's salary at nearly $16,000 more than the present superintendent and gave him a tax sheltered annuity valued at approximately $50,000 over the three years of his contract.
Board Vice President Ali Swanson said she came close to voting against hiring Wendt because of the additional salary and the annuities. But she did vote to hire him because she was not opposed to him personally.
Using the HR comparables and other figures should help resolve this problem, Wendt said.
He added he is finishing up interviews with finalists for two of his top administrative positions-associate superintendent for administration, now held by Todd Colvin, who has resigned to accept a position in another district, and assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, now held by Dr. Marsha Hollis, who is retiring.
"The Illinois Association of School Boards also helped with this process so I'm visiting with them and the candidates they brought forward. I'm very hopeful the district will be having conversations with those folks as early as next week but no later than the following week," he said.
Wendt said he would like to have them on board by July 1, but knows they more than likely will be coming from other districts and will need time to transition from there to here.
"We need to show respect for their current roles and positions in their current districts," he added.
Since the start of this year, eight administrators have resigned and a ninth one has retired.
Those who have resigned, all effective on June 30 are Superintendent Dr. Dan O'Donnell; Todd Colvin, assistant superintendent for administration; Tim Neubauer, assistant superintendent for business and finance; Tracy Murphy, Thompson Junior High principal; Kevin Lipke, Long Beach Elementary School principal; Jeff Modaff, Brokaw Early Learning Center principal; and the latest two, Bryan Buck, Plank Junior High principal; and David Kennedy, Thompson Junior High assistant principal.
Dr. Marsha Hollis, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning is the retiree.
reacts to resignations
School Board President Bill Walsh was asked whether he had heard comments from the public regarding eight administrators resigning since the first of the year, and whether it might have a negative effective on the board.
He said he has not read all the resignation letters.
"All I read was Dr. O'Donnell's resignation letter," he added.
"People make choices in their lives based on their own personal decisions, based on what's best for their professional and personal careers and development on where they are and where they want to go," he said.
Walsh said salaries of future administrators will be handled differently. Rather than the board members setting them, Wendt will be making salary recommendations to the board and asking for their approval.
He said once Wendt takes over the number of board meetings should be reduced.
The board has had almost 50 special and regular board meetings since the board election in April 2011.
"That's a lot of hours dedicated to the job," he added.