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School Board Discusses Options For Administrator

July 27, 2017
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

A discussion on the future of the shared superintendent's position in the Emmetsburg Community School District highlighted the July meeting of the Emmetsburg School Board on July 19.

Discussion on the topic began with Board President Tammy Naig explaining that the board's evaluations of Superintendent Amanda Schmidt had been shared with her, and that Board member Rick Bird, along with Naig, had met with the West Bend-Mallard School Board in June to discuss the evaluations, as the two districts share Schmidt's services as Superintendent.

"We all felt the sharing agreement is working very well,"?Naig noted, "there were no major concerns expressed in our meeting."

Schmidt agreed with Naig's assessment. "I've had the opportunity to review the evaluations with Tammy, and the things mentioned are all things that I?can work on to improve and I will do that."

Schmidt paused for a moment. "But, I'm not sure if that answers some of the questions you asked. My thought would be that you need to see what it is the community and the district wants and what is best for all involved. My suggestion would be that after the board elections in September, when you get new board members, that you have a work session in October to set a vision for the district in the future."

"I would like to set up a working group of board members to review some research that's been done on sharing and some possible alternatives,"?Board member Pete Hamilton said. "I've seen some studies and some research and there are results out there from surveys of educators asking their opinions on sharing and its' value. A lot say you shouldn't share if you're over 600 students. And, one of the questions I have is the money we receive from the state for sharing, does that run out in five years?"

Board Secretary Lisa Chapman answered that the Legislature is expected to extend the sharing incentive program for schools, according to information from the Iowa Department of Education.

"When we approached West Bend-Mallard and Amanda, the idea of sharing a superintendent was new to us - it was a trial, and we knew we would have to revisit it at sometime in the future," Naig noted. "I think that it would only be fair that a new board get onboard and then make a decision."

"This is a big decision,"?Hamilton said. "I'm not sure how I feel about it. It should be a thoughtful process."

As the discussion continued, Tom Griffin, the district's Director of Maintenance, offered a comment. "I've worked in schools for 17 years in Gilmore City, West Bend, Laurens and Emmetsburg, and I don't think you'll find a more accessible Superintendent than Amanda. One thing I?would do in this is to get input from the people who actually work for the Superintendent."

Chapman was asked how much funding the district received in state sharing incentives for Schmidt's services.

"This year, we received $50,928 for sharing the Superintendent's position with West Bend-Mallard," was Chapman's response.

"Sharing has worked very well for us,"?noted John Zaugg, a member of the West Bend-Mallard School Board, who attended the meeting.

"There's not a whole lot of opposition to have a shared Superintendent,"?noted Rick Bird. "It's almost a gift to have one so qualified so close. As an outgoing board member, I?think it' a huge financial benefit and a lot of the things she has done have been very high quality. Other things can be taken on by our other administrators."

"I agree,"?Naig said. "We have a good administrative team in Joe (Carter) Tracie (Christensen) and Mike (Embrock).

"What are your feelings?" Hamilton asked Schmidt.

"This has been very rewarding, as I've only been a Superintendent four years,"?Schmidt said. "When I came in I?was very up-front, I?have two girls who are very involved at West Bend and they only grow up once. If I can't watch them, I'm not the one for you and your community."

Schmidt continued, "If expectations have changed, I?need to know. I?will not miss my kids stuff, and that is my non-negotiable. You need to decide what is best for Emmetsburg and then see if my vision meets with your vision. But, if you want me to come here full time, that will not happen at this point in my life."

"I can't imagine anyone doing a better job in this situation than Amanda, Naig said. "I will stand behind her."

"You have quality people here,"?Schmidt said. "Things are getting done here whether I'm here or not. You just have to ask what's best for Emmetsburg, what do you want in the Superintendent. That's really what the question boils down to."

With that, the discussion came to a close.



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