Wood BOE to hear superintendent search update

PARKERSBURG – The Wood County Board of Education began discussions Monday on finding a successor for retiring Superintendent Pat Law.

The board made no decision Monday, but opted against a closed-door session to discuss the superintendent source, instead talking about the next step in the process during the regular open session.

The board meets again Jan. 13 to receive a presentation from Howard O’Cull, executive director of the West Virginia School Board Association. O’Cull and the association led the previous superintendent search which resulted in Law’s hire.

Board President Tim Yeater said he had received inquiries from other companies wanting to lead the superintendent search, but was unsure whether the board would be required to bid out such a contract.

Board members indicated they would be in favor of working with O’Cull again, and did not believe the cost of the search required a bid. Though the total cost of the last superintendent search was about $7,500-$8,000, the consulting fee through the WVSBA was considerably lower than the $5,000 threshold for requiring a bidding process.

Board members said about $5,000 of the cost of the last superintendent search was in advertising.

Yeater said Monday he hopes to have a decision made by the board’s Jan. 28 meeting.

Board members developed a basic list of questions for O’Cull to answer next week during his presentation concerning the superintendent search process.

Though the board did not use the executive session listed on Monday’s meeting agenda, Yeater did briefly discuss whether such a listing was needed.

Yeater said in recent discussions with Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Jason Wharton, who serves as counsel for the board, it was indicated the board could opt to go into a closed-door session to discuss an allowable topic without it being listed ahead of time on the written agenda.

Yeater said he believed the board needed to be more specific in its stated reasons for going into an executive session. In the past the board has simply stated the code which allowed for the session and referred to it generically, such as a personnel matter.

Yeater said his understanding from Wharton is the board must be more specific in describing what the executive session is for and what topic will be discussed.

“I think somewhere along the line we are going to need to address this as a policy,” Yeater said.

Board member John Marlow said the board’s current procedure is based off of recommendations from the state School Board Association’s attorney, Howard Seufer.

“But I would agree, just because we have done it this way in the past doesn’t mean we have to keep doing it like this,” Marlow said.

Board members requested a future training session to better understand Wharton’s recommendations.

A second item, both for discussion and vote, was pulled from Monday’s agenda at Law’s request. The board was set to discuss creating Title I teaching positions at Waverly Elementary and Worthington Elementary schools. The positions will be brought back at a future meeting.