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Moving Up

By Staff | Apr 26, 2012

For a pair of educators in the Emmetsburg Community School District, there will be new duties in the coming year, following action by the Emmetsburg School Board on April 18. However, two long-time district employees will no longer be filling roles after their resignations were accepted by the board.

The bus driving team of Ann and Phil Biddle submitted resignations to the board effective the end of the current school year.

“Ann has been driving for us for 15 years and Phil has driven our students for 17 years,” noted Superintendent of Schools John Joynt. “That’s a lot of miles and a lot of kids that they have transported safely. I’d recommend you accept their resignations but with regret.”

The board accepted the resignations unanimously with regrets and the district’s appreciation to the duo for their loyal service.

The next personnel move involved the resignation of Darca Saxton as a second grade instructor at West Elementary. However, the resignation was tied to board approval of transitioning Saxton to the position of Talented and Gifted Coordinator for grades K-12 in the district.

“The resignation is a formality,” Joynt told the board. “Under law, an educator cannot be under two contracts in a district at the same time. When you accept the resignation, you can then offer the new position.”

The resignation and transition was approved unanimously.

The board then turned to a similar situation with 5-12 Assistant Principal Fred Matlage.

According to Joynt, following the resignation of 5-12 Principal Jay Jurrens, the vacancy was advertised internally in the district. Matlage, who is completing his first year in the district, applied for the position. “It is my recommendation that we offer the 5-12 Principal’s position to Mr. Matlage, and then advertise to fill the Assistant Principal’s position,” Joynt said.

However, the move generated some extended discussion.

“Please understand, I mean no disrespect to you, Mr. Matlage, but I feel that we owe it to the district to advertise outside the district for this position,” stated Board President BJ Schany. “That’s just my two cents worth.”

“What is past policy on something like this?” asked board member Tammy Naig.

“We advertise all positions in-house first, and if there are no applicants, then we advertise outside the district,” Joynt responded. “This has been past practice for quite some time.”

Joynt went on to cite several examples, such as promotions from within as Mike Dunlap from assistant to head football coach, Joe Carter from a middle school instructor to Assistant Principal and then Elementary Principal, and even himself, starting from his days as a classroom instructor to his current position as Superintendent. Joynt went on to cite Jay Jurrens, starting as a student teacher, then moving to the classroom, guidance counselor and then high school principal. “There have been many other positions filled this way; library aide, TAG instructors like you just did with Darca Saxton.”

“I have to agree with BJ,” Board member Scott Kibbie said. “I think Mr. Matlage is the most qualified individual for this position, but I don’t think we should limit our options.”

However, there were earnest words of support for Matlage.

“I just don’t think you’ll find a better applicant for this position. He is very consistent in what he does and he would be the choice of the secretaries,” noted Middle School Secretary Julie Dunlap.

“The committee that originally interviewed Mr. Matlage last year arrived at the consensus that he was the best person to fill that position,” noted Jared Pickett, high school science instructor. “I’ve taught at Sioux City East and Harlan and I can honestly say Mr. Matlage is one of the best administrators I’ve ever seen and worked with.”

“I do feel he is the most qualified, but the public will ask us if we opened it up and. I don’t want to answer those questions,” Kibbie replied. “There is no doubt in my mind he is the most qualified.”

Board member Kathy Roethler spoke up. “Consistency is a very good point. Are we opening it up just to say we did? To me, consistency is very important.”

Tammy Naig noted that she had spoken to several faculty and staff members, who all spoke “very highly” of Matlage and that the consensus was to see him named Principal. “I believe we need to ask the people who work directly with people, and sometimes, we don’t do a very good job of that.”

Board member Kim Campbell agreed. “I got the same kind of responses. The staff is comfortable with Mr. Matlage they know him, work with him and are excited about things he wants to implement. I also talked to students too. They’re comfortable with him; they know he’s firm, but fair. He’s very approachable for the students and is supportive of them too.”

Campbell continued, “The interview committee last year made a decision to recommend Mr. Matlage for his position and all five people, including myself, unanimously agreed. To me, that says a lot about him.”

Board member Karla Anderson moved to accept the resignation and promotion of Matlage and following a second, Schany called for a vote. Ayes were cast by Roethler, Anderson, Campbell and Naig, while Rick Brennan and Schany cast Nay votes. However, Kibbie had not voted at that point, and then spoke. “After hearing the comments about Mr. Matlage, I will change my mind and vote aye, and when the questions are asked, I’ll just have to answer them.”

With the final vote of 5-2, Schany declared the motion to approve the resignation and appointment of Fred Matlage as the 5-12 principal effective July 1, 2012 carried to end the discussion.