The Carson City School Board still hasn’t decided what its next step will be after superintendent candidate John Goldhardt turned down the district’s offer.
Goldhardt rejected the board’s original contract and removed his candidacy on Friday.
“It saddens me to respectfully reject your contract, end the negotiation process, and allow you to appoint your internal candidate as your superintendent. I was looking forward to working in this district and living in this community,” Goldhardt wrote in a letter he sent to the school board Friday, the district confirmed.
Last week, the board voted 6-1 to deny a contract proposed to Goldhardt, to which the candidate had made a series of counterproposals. After a lengthy discussion in which the trustees discussed their issues with Goldhardt’s proposed changes to the term, increased salary, the addition of relocation expenses and other language, the board ultimately directed President Richard Varner to return to Goldhardt with the original contract.
The original contract was for one year at a base salary of $170,000.
"Following the Tuesday, March 22, school board meeting, President Varner refined the terms of the superintendent proposal as directed by the board of trustees and extended the proposal to Dr. John Goldhardt. Subsequently, Dr. Goldhardt rejected the proposal and withdrew as a candidate for the superintendent position with the Carson City School,” the district said Friday in a press release.
Goldhardt addressed his concerns in his letter about the one-year term originally offered in the contract.
“Multi-year contracts for superintendents are the norm throughout the country,” he said. “I applied for this position for the long-haul and there was concern expressed by trustees about how long I would stay. After a 4-3 vote to hire me, a one-year contract does not show good faith by the trustees in having me stay long term. In addition, the original contract I received … even had an entire paragraph about me finding and training a successor by the end of the first year. This caused me great concern.”
He also stated he would be willing to accept the original proposed $170,000 salary without the relocation expenses or other proposals in red text but said the one-year contract and statements “repeated multiple times by two trustees that I am ‘not student-centered’ and ‘selfish’ is a deal breaker.”
He referred to a more substantial reason for his rejection as he watched the March 22 board meeting as feeling the board was divided on his hire, stating he could not “move past it.”
Trustee Laurel Crossman said, “I feel as board members here, we also have an obligation here to protect the district and to protect our staff and our students. All of our funds we have, we are looking at having a $3.3 million reduction in revenues, so when we look at what we are having to cut, to cover Dr. Goldhardt’s proposal … is evidence of a ‘me first’ attitude and not a ‘kids first’ attitude, and that has me concerned.”
Also during the March 22 meeting, Trustee Mike Walker said he felt the board was about to make a mistake if it approved the contract with Goldhardt’s requests.
“We don’t have adversarial relations about any of our groups,” Walker said. “We work well together, we all tighten our belts. When I read through this, I didn’t get the sense that we were putting students first.”
“The tone of Vice President Crossman was accusatory, demeaning, and slanderous in sharing multiple false statements about me,” Goldhardt states in his letter. “Having the vice president of the board (and probably next president) undermining the vote of hiring me by the board during contract discussions and encouraging the board to reconsider their decision causes deeper division and a culture of distrust.”
He also expressed concerns about false accusations he supported critical race theory and in his action to make a counteroffer, it established a negative tone with the board and Carson City School District staff members, adding further division and distrust, he states in his letter.
“It saddens me that it has come to this and based upon the reasons listed above and especially the tone and tenor of the meeting on the 22nd, this respectful rejection will be for the best for both parties,” Goldhardt wrote.
Monday, Goldhardt told the Appeal, “I will pursue other career options. I wish the trustees and district leadership the best in pursuing excellence for the students of Carson City.”
“The district leadership and president of the school board are still considering the matter as far as next steps,” district spokesman Dan Davis said Tuesday.
Below is Goldhardt's letter in full:
March 24, 2022
Carson City Board of Trustees
Carson City School District
1402 W King Street
Carson City, NV 89703
It saddens me to respectfully reject your contract, end the negotiation process, and allow you to appoint your internal candidate as your superintendent. I was looking forward to working in this district and living in this community. I extend my congratulations to Superintendent Stokes for a stellar career and for his leadership. My reasons for my decision are the following:
• Multi-year contracts for superintendents are the norm throughout the country. I applied for this position for the long-haul and there was concern expressed by Trustees about how long I would stay. After a 4-3 vote to hire me, a one-year contract does not show good faith by the Trustees in having me stay long term. In addition, the original contract I received (see attached) even had an entire paragraph about me finding and training a successor by the end of the first year. This caused me great concern.
• Using a car analogy, a one-year contract feels very much like I'm being taken on a "test drive" instead of a long-term lease or purchase. --
• I never agreed to a one-year contract in discussions with President Varner. I expressed great concern and requested a written contract so I could make a response.
• I could accept $170,000, no moving expenses, as well as none of the other red-lined proposals, but a one-year contract with the caveat repeated multiple times by two Trustees that I am "not student-centered" and "selfish" is a deal breaker.
• However, a more significant reason was based on what I observed watching the live Board meeting on March 22nd. It became very apparent that the Trustees are still deeply divided on my hire and cannot move past it. I can live with some division. However, I cannot live with undermining, defamation, slander, and subversion.
• The tone of Vice President Crossman was accusatory, demeaning, and slanderous in sharing multiple false statements about me. Having the Vice President of the Board (and probable next President) undermining the vote of hiring me by the Board during contract discussions and encouraging the Board to reconsider their decision causes deeper division and a culture of distrust. This is a lethal combination for effective Board-Superintendent relations. In addition, the relative silence of other Trustees of this disparaging behavior equates acceptance. I would expect someone who is a trained attorney to know better to not spread hearsay and publicly slander my personal and professional reputation.
• Trustee Walker also made false accusations in that I supported Critical Race Theory and that because I made a counteroffer, I set a negative tone with the Board and all Carson City School District employees. Like Trustee Crossman this adds division, distrust, and is slanderous.
It saddens me that it has come to this and based upon the reasons listed above and-especially the tone and tenor of the meeting on the 22nd, this respectful rejection will be for the best for both parties.
I wish the Trustees, students, parents, community members, employees, and Mr. Fueling nothing but the best.
John Goldhardt, Ed.D.