Superintendent decision a stalemate |

Superintendent decision a stalemate

Scott Neuffer
Nevada Appeal News Service

After two months of narrowing the field, Douglas County School Board members couldn’t agree on either superintendent finalist this week.

A motion by Board Vice President Tom Moore to offer a contract to Dave Jensen, assistant superintendent of Humboldt County School District, failed on a 3-4 vote.

Minutes later, a motion by board member Cindy Trigg to offer a contract to Mary Bull, former superintendent of Vallejo City Unified School District, failed on a 5-2 vote.

By the end of the night Monday, board members had agreed to further interview two candidates previously eliminated from the running: Lisa Noonan, chief academic officer of Washoe County Schools, and Heather Henderson-Hill, deputy superintendent of Chinook’s Edge School Division in Alberta, Canada.

To begin the meeting, each board member stated whom they supported and why.

Moore said he picked up three things from staff feedback: concerns about Bull’s past in Vallejo, concerns about Jensen’s lack of educational leadership, and a desire to further interview Noonan.

Board member Sharla Hales said she couldn’t support either candidate.

“I like Jensen immensely but don’t believe he’s the right person because of that instructional piece missing,” she said.

Hales said she also likes Bull, but she’s frustrated the candidate came with a cloud over her head.

“I feel the cloud was created by people less than honorable in what they did, but nonetheless there’s a cloud, and she didn’t do much to dispel the cloud. I’m afraid she doesn’t have the community support,” Hales said.

Attending the meeting via speakerphone, Trigg said she was looking at innovation, graduation rates and curriculum.

“I kept coming back to Mary Bull,” she said. “We did have problems with our past superintendent, but we also had problems with our own board.”

Trigg said Bull would be a fantastic curriculum director if the board were willing to work with her.

Moore said he was not in favor of bringing in the other two candidates “who didn’t make the cut,” and he voted against the final motion to interview Henderson-Hill and Noonan. He suggested re-advertising the position, but his motion to do so failed from a lack of a second.

While stating they’re still open to the possibility of Bull or Jensen, board members voted to schedule roundtable interviews with Noonan and Henderson-Hill. Exact dates and times are still pending.

Consultant Jim Huge said there’s a good chance Bull and Jensen will not come back to the table. At the same time, though, he said the process isn’t over until the ink on the contract is signed.

“Imagine how this must be viewed by the candidates,” Moore said. “The message this board is sending out is tremendous.”