Seiter recommends House as Farwell interim superintendent

June 29, 2017

By Pat Maurer

At the end of a very lengthy special meeting Tuesday, the Farwell Board of Education agreed to look for an interim superintendent, and “take their time” finding a new superintendent for the district.

Current Superintendent Carl Seiter is leaving June 30 to take a new position as a dual superintendent at Hillman Community Schools and Atlanta Community Schools east of Gaylord. He gave the board his resignation June 19. He has been at the Farwell School District for 25 years, selected as their business manager in 1992 and as Superintendent in 2011.

Carl Seiter, Farwell Superintendent

Carl Seiter, Farwell Superintendent

At his last meeting in Farwell, Seiter outlined proposals for a superintendent search from the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) and from the Michigan Leadership Institute. He told the board to expect a cost of around $6,000 to $8,000 for the search. He said either firm would be a good search organization and urged the board to select one saying, “If the board selects a firm right now, I will be calling them tomorrow to ask for a list of potential interim superintendent candidates.”

In fact the board already has one interested candidate for the interim position, former Harrison Superintendent Tom House, who is retired. Seiter recommended House saying, “If I were you (to the board) I would hire Tom. He is honest, had integrity and knowledgeable and would be a great choice.”

Considering the district’s budget woes, the board members expressed concern over the cost for a search.

Concerning the length of time the district would need an interim superintendent, Board President Shari Buccilli said, “We don’t have to rush. We want the best candidate. It might take six months or it might take a year.”

Former Board President Rose Sharp said, “Money should not be the object. You need to take your time and do the search the right way
Seiter said that Former Board President Lou Adams had offered to help the board with a search, but said he recommended using MASB or MLI. Adams agreed that that would be best.

Adams said during the meeting first public comment time, “This is the most important decision you, as board members will make. I recommend a wide search which would be best for the district.”

He said although he had experience in candidate searches, he did not have experience in educational searches. “I am willing to help the board if they need me,” he said later in the meeting.

Seiter told the board that a retired superintendent serving as an interim would only be able to work part-time due to requirements about income while retired. “They can only work for one-third of the time,” he said.

Board Vice President Holley Thrush questioned a part-time interim superintendent saying, “They are not going to be capable of handling it at only a couple days a week.”

Seiter responded that the administrators would be there to help and an interim superintendent could handle the work in two to three days or five half days a week.

He said an MLI representative he talked to recommended in interim position until January.

Board member John Gross said “I want to consider Tom House. Can we get by (without a superintendent) for a couple of weeks?

Seiter said that should not be a problem. “You have very capable administrators here who could handle it, or any emergency.”

The board also discussed filling the interim position internally, if an administrator is interested. Seiter said he would find that out before the end of the week and let the board know.

Several queries from residents to Board Trustee Angelina Hammond stating that a new superintendent should be required to enroll his own children in the district prompted a statement from Hammond that the board cannot discriminate that way. “People need to know that is illegal.”

Some audience members agreed that a new superintendent should enroll his own children in the district.

The subject prompted Thrush, visibly upset, to say to the audience, “You ought to be ashamed, that you would bash someone for a personal choice.” She outlined her own former problem with an administrator and teacher, and said, “You have no right to tell someone where they can send their children.”

Seiter diffused the situation, saying to everyone, “You need to stop (this discussion). This is not the way to seek candidates in the newspaper.”

The lengthy discussion ended with a motion to hire MLI for the search and instruct Seiter to look for interim superintendent candidates.

The unusually long meeting followed nearly an hour and a half closed session to discuss negotiations. When the board returned to open session, there was no motion to ratify the Farwell Education Association Contract. Seiter said, “We will have to go back to the table.”

The board did ratify the Farwell Education Support Association contract with a unanimous vote, granting para-pros, secretarial technicians and other support personnel an hourly increase plus step increase and longevity to comply with the new minimum wage requirement for the coming year and a wage reopener for the following two years. The three-year contract also says “Any member not receiving a step increase or an increase due to longevity incremental increase will receive an off scale $100 payment on the first pay of November 2017. It also stipulates that new hires after July 1 will be hourly pay instead of the 26 pay option, which will no longer be available. FESA members currently using the 26 pay option can change to hourly pay, but won’t be able to change back.

Action at the June 19 meeting included:

*Approval of the final reading of the NEOLA Policy.

*Approval of the 2017-18 District Budgets.

*Approval of amendment to the 2016-17 budget.

*Approval of the resignations of High School Special Education Teacher William Kirkpatrick, and of Food Service Department member Connie Bickel.

*Approving May 20 as the 2018 graduation date and May 18 as the Timberland High School graduation date.

*Approval of MHSAAA membership for the coming year.

*Approval of an extension of the Chartwells Food Service contract for the coming year.

*Approval of three year contracts for Nancy Cairnduff, Catheryn Gross, Kyle Woodruff, Dee Yarger and Emily Kearney.

*Approval of operational invoices totaling $410,503.64.

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