New JPS leader: Toso offers suggestions in finding his replacementThe Jamestown Public School Board learned at Monday’s meeting what it will need to consider when going through the application process to replace Superintendent Bob Toso.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Public School Board learned at Monday’s meeting what it will need to consider when going through the application process to replace Superintendent Bob Toso.
Toso recently announced his plans to retire June 13, 2013, after being an administrator with the district for the past 12 years.
“I want to make sure that you understand that nothing we talk about tonight is final,” he said. “Of course we’re going to meet with Jon Martinson (executive director, North Dakota School Boards Association) on the 10th (of October) and you needed to have some information before you went into that meeting.”
Martinson will act as a consultant and help the board members with any questions they may have when hiring a superintendent.
Toso supplied the board with a list of what the board considered in 2000 when it hired Dr. Dave Looysen as superintendent.
He recommended the board have an idea of what it wants to offer for salary and benefits, as most applicants will want to know.
Also, he suggested the board know what the application will have on it as far as questions it will ask to prospective candidates.
“We have a standard application form that everybody who applies for a position in Jamestown uses,” Toso said. “The only thing that’s different from application to application are four questions at the end.”
He told the board that it will have to review applications and conduct interviews and the board can do so in one or more committees. That committee/s can be made up of community members, administrators, teachers or whatever it decides.
He also provided a tentative timetable for the process and urged the board to decide when it wants to make the job opening official, when and how it would conduct interviews and when a final announcement would be made.
“I always think interviews are two ways: You’re interviewing the candidate but the candidate is also looking over the community, so you want to sell the community to the candidate,” he said.
Ways of “selling” the community could include tours for finalists or even meeting with a board-appointed real estate agent, Toso said.
The board will also have to decide whether or not to pay mileage expenses, what to do for meals and whether or not it would pay finalists’ hotel accommodations and the successful applicant’s moving expenses.
“I’ll be surprised if you get more than 15,” he said of the number of possible applicants. “I’ll be disappointed if you get less than 10.”
Toso said to his knowledge there is no internal candidate right now and said that the district would likely hire from inside North Dakota, or look at a person who wants to move back to North Dakota.
Board member Terry Andersen inquired about using a national consulting service, but Toso said that the service will likely suggest finalists from the main pool of applicants.
“They do cost money, sometimes a lot of money, and I want to retain as much control in that decision- making process here on this board,” said School Board President Roy Musland.
The School Board also discussed the salary scale for support staff at the request of board member Tanya Ostlie.
“I’ve had a lot of concerns from support staff saying when we gave the 6 percent raise, that they didn’t get 6 percent and I’m confused about the way that worked,” Ostlie said.
There was some discussion amongst the board that support staff may have felt they would get the 6 percent raise along with an additional automatic step increase.
All support staff at JPS were given a flat raise increase of 6 percent last year. This is the same way the board has done support staff increases for the past three years.
The board could address the issue at a future meeting, but the money for additional raises currently has not been budgeted in this fiscal year.
Each support staff employee is placed in a certain group on the support staff salary schedule. If that employee’s responsibilities increase he or she is moved up in the salary schedule, according to Sally Ost, JPS business manager. There is no guaranteed step increase for current employees; instead, for the past three years the board has decided to raise a set amount across the board.
“We saw this salary schedule, there aren’t any automatic step increases and everybody got 6 percent across the board, period,” said Gail Martin, board member. “There shouldn’t be any more discussion.”
Ostlie, who voted in favor of the 6 percent raise on April 16, 2012, said she has never seen a salary schedule where there are no automatic step increases, and that she did not approve of Martin’s tone at the meeting.
“I’m tired of you talking down to us like idiots,” Ostlie said.
Later in the meeting the board briefly discussed issues with students leaving the district. Three no-cost tuition waivers were approved with Martin as the lone dissenting vote for each agreement.
“We used to vote no on every single one of these that was our position, that this next year the school wouldn’t get the money, they’d get it the year after that,” Martin said of the no-cost tuition waiver process. “I feel like we’re handing these kids over a silver platter and by the way, here’s the money too.”
When the board approves a no-cost tuition waiver the accepting district receives foundation aid for that student that year depending on meeting a deadline.
Board member Diane Hanson has spent the last five and a half weeks as a substitute teacher in Pingree, N.D. She said she found out from students who left JPS that “bullying and meanness” was the reason for some female students leaving Jamestown. Otherwise she said she found out it was the parent’s or parents’ choice to enroll into a smaller school.
Toso had a conversation with a regional administrator who asked why the board discussed negatives in the district at public meetings and why are no-cost agreements also debated?
Board member Greg Allen said to retain more students one thing the board could do is to highlight positives in the district at board meetings.
In other news, Hanson did not declare a conflict of interest and voted along with the other eight board members to approve herself to the district list of substitute teachers.
“It was a complete mistake,” she said after the meeting.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org