Superintendent candidates narrowed to four

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis school board has narrowed the field to four in its search to replace Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm.

The board released its short list of the final four candidates Wednesday. They are:

• Fort Sumner Schools Superintendent Patricia Miller

• Douglas, Ariz., Unified School District Superintendent Earl Pettit

• Texico Schools Superintendent R.L. Richards

• Clovis Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley

Seidenwurm announced in January that she would resign effective June 30.

The board’s disclosure of finalists came two days earlier than planned.

Board Member Lora Harlan, who is spearheading the process for the board, said the process has moved smoothly, allowing the board to narrow the list quicker than anticipated.

Harlan said it is coincidence three of the four candidates are local.

“I think we have a good group of finalists and we’re looking forward to their interviews,” Harlan said.

The board will conduct interviews March 25 and 26 and the plan is to make a decision by March 31.

Candidates will interview with the board, administrative council and district policy committee.

Miller has 22 years of experience in education.

“I want to be superintendent of Clovis schools because I think Clovis is a phenomenal school district. I’m excited by the opportunities working together,” she said.

Miller said she’s been fortunate at Fort Sumner and feels Clovis has similar characteristics.

She said her experience in both small and large districts makes her a good candidate.

“I know I’m the only applicant that’s a nationally board certified teacher,” she said. “Instruction is such a high priority for me and that makes me a good candidate.”

Pettit has been in education for 14 years.

“I’ve had my experiences as being a superintendent, in my current and prior district, as a turn-around superintendent,” he said. “I go into districts that are in trouble academically.”

Pettit said when you are that kind of superintendent, you don’t stay long.

“I have young children of my own. I’m looking for a place I can have a lasting tenure. When I looked into Clovis, I see that Clovis has a very solid performance. I want to effect systematic change,” he said. “I’ve got the expertise. Now it’s time to settle down and lead a good district into being a great school district.”

Shirley said he was honored to be a finalist.

“I’ve sat back and contemplated what my vision is for the district as far as the budget and the direction we’re headed,” Shirley said.

Shirley has said he feels he can provide a smooth transition for the district.

“I have been here long enough to understand some of the challenges. I feel like I’ve got a good handle on not only the finances but the tremendous changes in infrastructure…happening in the area and keeping up with High Schools That Work. I feel like I’m up to speed in a variety of those areas. I felt like I was a good in-house candidate,” Shirley said.

Richards did not return several telephone calls but Texico basketball coach Richard Luscombe has worked 20 years with Richards.

“I think he would do a very good job looking at all the improvements he made at Texico,” Luscombe said. “You can see he’s made changes with the way our test scores are and how our school is ranked. He would be a wise choice.”

Luscombe said it would be hard to see Richards leave.

“I don’t know what his goals were when he started here but with everything he’s done, I’m sure he’s come close to satisfying those goals,” Luscombe said. “He would be missed just as far as the aspect of what he’s done.”

Luscombe said Richards’ two decades as Texico superintendent says lots about his abilities.

“To do that in this day and age says something,” he said.