The real reason we have two superintendents for two months

How did the Carson City School District end up paying more than $20,000 to have two superintendents for the current two-month period, and what does this say about board oversight?

There are many new faces in new positions in the CCSD from the superintendent on down. It is the Board's responsibility to make sure systemic obstacles and the shackles of the past do not unduly undermine the potential of personnel or students. Change provides opportunities and a chance for the Board to review how we operate.

Having two superintendents for two months was a mistake and was never discussed at a public board meeting, as the minutes and tapes show. The opportunity for public input was never given. The problem has its roots to 2006, when the outgoing superintendent's contract was negotiated.

Standard contracts for administrators run from July 1 to June 30. The outgoing superintendent's contract was oddly changed in 2006 to end on Aug. 31 of 2008. Such an ending date is unorthodox and unusual, and it took place before my time on the board.

The public and I were informed on Feb. 12 and Feb. 26 that the start date for Mr. Stokes would be Sept. 1, without any transition period. The minutes confirm that was the specific date given and passed in the motion to negotiate with him. President Jim Lemaire was empowered by this motion to negotiate the contract, but changed the date without properly going back to the board for an amended authorization. The contract with the changed date was passed on April 8 without any public mention of the change. I mistakenly relied on Mr. Lemaire's verbal synopsis of the "major points" (omitting this key element) in the contract and did not notice the new date of hire in the contract at that time. No one else mentioned the change.

Later, as the overlap issue was questioned, false assertions were made that this was discussed and it was given a spin of being purposeful as some sort of transition period. Mr. Stokes justifiably wanted a standard start date, and I agree he should have one. He should not be burdened by his predecessor's abnormal contract. The board should have discussed this issue at a public meeting in accord with the Open Meeting Law. Anyone wishing to pretend we did discuss it should demonstrate where in the minutes or on tape this took place.

In the future the board should stick to standard administrative contract dates and inform all members of the board publicly and not just some privately about such matters. The board has made some improvement in terms of transparency with accurate minutes and posting them on the Web site in the last year. We no longer operate under the erroneous position that members cannot respond to citizens during public comment. Progress has been made, but the disinformation surrounding the dual superintendent issue shows more work needs to be done.


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