Timeline set for Clovis superintendent replacement

By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis school board announced Tuesday plans to have an interim superintendent in six days — and a permanent one in place July 1.

The board set a timeline to replace outgoing Superintendent Neil Nuttall, who accepted the president’s position at North Central Missouri College in October. He has been superintendent since 1997 and will work his last day Nov. 23.

Nuttall did not attend Tuesday’s board meeting due to a commitment in Alamogordo. About 90 people were in attendance.

The board will accept applications for interim superintendent until 11 a.m. Tuesday. The board will meet at 7 p.m. that evening to make a selection. The interim will serve from Nov. 27 through June 30 and can not be a candidate for the permanent position.

Board member Lora Harlan said allowing an interim superintendent to become permanent would give that person an unfair advantage over other candidates.

The interim’s salary (prorated) and benefits will be equal to Nuttall’s $100,602 salary.

The only qualification noted by the board for the interim superintendent was “administrative experience in public education.”

According to the timeline, the board will accept applications for the permanent position from Jan. 3 through Feb. 28. The board will announce five finalists in March and make the selection in June.

Board member Ken Merritt, who proposed the timeline, said a similar format has been used for past superintendent searches.

The interim superintendent will make significant decisions for the district. A 60-day legislative session begins in January and the district budgeting process begins in April.

The board did not discuss any specific personnel or qualifications for the permanent position.

Yucca Junior High teacher Mike Rutledge said after the meeting the expected eight-month search process is necessary.

“I think you need to make sure anybody you hire is highly qualified for the position, and if it takes a little bit longer to get that right person, I think it is worth it,” Rutledge said.

He also supports an interim superintendent from within the district, “as long as they are qualified for the position,” he said.

But Judy Kern, a 19-year veteran in Clovis schools, told the board she opposes an interim superintendent.

Kern voiced concerns about an interim approving a budget they will not oversee. She said if new school board members are elected in February, it will be too much to expect a new board member to immediately hire a superintendent.

And she said Clovis needs strong representation at the state legislative session.

“Would we indeed have legislative clout with an interim superintendent?” she asked.

Karen Beachum, a parent who plans to student teach in Clovis next year, said observing the selection process is important to her. She was impressed with the board’s direction.

“I think they are doing a wonderful job,” Beachum said. “They are not being rushed and letting the emotional aspect of it all rush them into it.”