School Board Debates Hiring
Postpones Decision Until Thursday
By Ken DeLaat
Over 3 dozen people attended the regular meeting of the Newaygo School Board Monday evening where a lengthy discussion among board members centered on a recent hiring recommendation made by Superintendent Dr. Peg Mathis.
With business manager Cindy Blamer retiring in August current athletic director Kristin Melvin was selected from a pool of candidates and chosen by Dr. Mathis to succeed Ms.Blamer. As policy dictates Ms. Melvin‘s name was brought to the board for approval, however there appeared to be some resistance to approving the selection from some board members.
Board member Reid Sherwood made a motion...
...to accept the selection and Board member Vince Grodus asked if he could make a motion for the decision to be postponed, stating he felt he needed more time to consider the recommendation.
“I know when I go to vote for President or buy a car I like to be informed. In the spirit of being informed I would like to make a motion to postpone this decision so that I can make an informed vote.”
Board President Bret Brummel clarified that the original motion made would need to be rescinded.
Board member Melissa Swinehart stated she felt the board did not have input into the decision and agreed with Mr. Grodus about needing more time to make a decision.
“This isn’t about the person this is about the process,” she stated. “I would like more information like why that person was chosen because I think it’s fair to say you might have someone who is more qualified on paper but not necessarily the best person for the job. I want to make the right decision but based on the information I have I don’t feel I can do that.”
“Just to be clear the board policy was followed through this hiring process,” said Mr. Brummel. “All the information given to the board is appropriate for this position and the hiring was handled in an appropriate manner, We hired Dr. Mathis to put forward who she thinks is the best candidate for the position and the situation was handled the way the board has dictated it should be handled,
“I am confident with my vote today.”
“It’s not so much the process,” added Ms. Swinehart. “But it’s hard to make a decision of this magnitude without more information.”
“What is your concern?” asked Board member Reid Sherwood.
“I’d like to know who was on the selection committee and why, “replied Ms. Swinehart. “I’d like to know the qualifications of each candidate that applied, What exactly were we looking for?”
Asked for input Dr. Mathis stated, “I have been involved in public school hiring for over 20 years. The process has run smoothly since the time I’ve been here and successfully during that time. I’m not sure if we’re looking at the process or the outcome of the process.
“When I looked for a business manager I wanted someone who is not concerned about a time clock and will work until the job is done, someone who loves Newaygo Schools, I want someone who cares for Newaygo kids and someone who will work very well as a part of our team. I want someone who is kind, gentle and here for the long haul. During the hiring process I included a principal, an office secretary and a building secretary because those are the groups in addition to me that this person will have to work closely with.
“Cindy does the job of 2-3 people and the person I hired I am confident can fill those shoes and I’m not confident with other candidates it will be the case.
I followed board policy to the letter and done what I’ve done in hiring for 20 plus years."
Other board members provided some input and further discussion included a little verbal jousting between some members regarding what difference postponing the decision would make.
In the end Mr., Sherwood rescinded his motion and a motion was made to reschedule the decision until Thursday night at 6pm when the board would reconvene and render a final decision.
The motion passed with Mr.Brummel casting the lone dissenting vote.
The Board will meet at the high school library at 6pm Thursday.