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RISD board votes on superintendent search

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Alan Gedde, school board president, and Interim Superintendent Michael Gottlieb talk during Tuesday night’s board meeting. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Members of the Roswell school board have decided that the board and district staff will manage the search for a new superintendent.

As part of that vote, during the board’s Tuesday night meeting, they also chose to consider both internal and external candidates for the position.

Board members selected from among four options on how to proceed in selecting the top administrator for Roswell’s 21 public elementary and secondary schools and its students, which number about 10,300.

The option chosen unanimously by the five board members has the Human Resources staff working with board members and the superintendent’s office to recruit candidates, vet applicants and handle the interview and screening process. Community input is also planned as part of the process.

“Our HR department and Mr. Gottlieb will handle doing all the heavy lifting, going through the process of looking at resumes, making sure they are qualified for what qualifications we want,” said Alan Gedde, president of the school board. “Even if we decide to go that route, we would still have to set up a process and vote on it at the March meeting.”

Hope Morales, Mona Kirk and James Edwards voiced their support of the option because it will consider both current employees and people outside the district.

One of the other three options was to invite internal candidates only to apply and choose among those applicants for a few who would enter an extended interview process with Interim Superintendent Michael Gottlieb.

That process was described as “sort of like an internship,” and one board member suggested that something like that could be made part of the selection process that was chosen.

Gottlieb had been the district’s superintendent for eight years before his 2012 retirement. He had been with the district as an educator for 30 years. He was brought back last month — on a contract lasting until June 30 — after Dr. Ann McIlroy’s resignation to “pursue other professional interests” was announced following an executive session during the January board meeting. She is on administrative leave until June 30.

The other two options were to hire a professional search firm to handle the entire process or to contract with the New Mexico School Board Association, the choice made in 2017 and 2018 that resulted in the hiring of McIlroy in April 2018.

Several members audibly said “no” to those options.

“We have been through … interim superintendents for the past four, five years. We have had three,” said Kirk, a school board member during the previous search. “We have got to get it right this time.”

Besides Kirk, members who participated in the previous superintendent search are Edwards and Gedde. Morales and Hilda Sanchez are new board members, taking their seats in January.

The board also approved several other items Tuesday night.

• Members authorized the sale of $7 million in bonds to be used to improve school facilities and grounds or to purchase or upgrade equipment used by students. The bonds were part of the $14 million general obligation bond issue for the district approved by local voters in February 2019.

• The board agreed to increase contract payments to two bus companies so that the contractors can purchase three new buses that they will own. Pollard will buy two small buses for $40,222, and Hamill Transportation will buy a medium-size, 50-seat bus for $22,187.

• The board approved placing a moratorium on a new rule regarding health care subsidies for retiring teachers in the hopes the rule will change or that its implementation can be delayed until June 2021. The New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority has proposed a rule that would affect employees of public school districts in New Mexico, according to RISD documents. It would require eligible employees to retire by Dec. 31, 2020, to receive a 100% subsidy for their health care coverage. Otherwise, according to school district information, employees would have to wait until they meet two criteria — being at least 55 years old and having at least 25 years of service — to receive the full subsidy.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.