DENAIR — A committee of 25 school and community leaders will help select Denair Unified School District’s next superintendent, the board decided Thursday night.
“Credibility” is the goal, Interim Superintendent Walt Hanline told board members and members-elect, each of whom will appoint one person to the Superintendent Selection Advisory Committee.
Provisional appointments were made for Clark Hulbert, Mandie Avila and Dave Mueller, contingent on each agreeing to serve. Board members John Plett, Carolyn Brown and Robert Hodges must still make their choices.
To an initial list of labor, administration and school site representatives, the board elected to add an appointee each from the Denair Educational Foundation, the Denair Lions Club, Municipal Advisory Council and the District English Learner Advisory Committee.
Committee members must sign a confidentiality agreement.
The group will interview the first round of candidates Jan. 3 and submit recommendations to the board, which will hold second interviews the next day and make the final choice.
The superintendent’s contract is set to be signed by Jan. 9, with the new leader starting work no later than Feb. 3, according to the district’s search timeline.
The search could be complicated by the district’s dire financial state, but Hanline said he has had calls from interested candidates. “I do not think you will have a deep pool,” he said. Five have applied, and Hanline has had three inquiries this week.
Denair Unified is facing a takeover by the state, which would replace any superintendent with its own administrator if the district cannot cut spending enough before June 30. On Tuesday night, the board certified its budget, which remains in the red.
A financial update by Douglas Crancer, interim chief business official, showed Denair’s future financial picture looks worse. The district continues to lose students and borrow money from Stanislaus County Office of Education to pay its daily bills, Crancer said.
Denair Unified now expects to end the year more than $684,000 short of what it needs.
To get back in the black, the district will need to get salary concessions from its teachers, fiscal experts have said.
Negotiations have stalled, but a state expert agreed upon by teachers and the district will comb through the district’s finances and propose a compromise within the next month.
The board has agreed to abide by the expert’s recommendation, but teachers say they cannot agree to a deal sight unseen.
“We won’t promise to be bound by the fact-finding,” said Denair Unified Teachers Union President Barry Cole. “As I have consistently stated, it is not that Denair teachers are opposed to a concession to do our part; we are just opposed to unnecessary and outrageous pay cuts.”
Denair teachers are picketing before and after school, community members said at the meeting.
Hanline said if the teachers do not accept the compromise, the district can unilaterally impose cuts.
“We are going to have closure on this issue,” Hanline said, by Jan. 10 at the latest.
“That’s the conversation I’m having with candidates,” Hanline said. By the time a new superintendent is in place, he said, “The dirt will be done and they can go out and build a great district, a new Denair. And I’ll be back in Oregon counting my trees.”
In other business, the board bid farewell to 12-year member Louisa Allen, who worked for the district as a classroom aide for 24 years before joining the board.
At its next meeting, Sandi Dirkse and Kathi Dunham-Filson will join the board, bringing it back to a five-member panel. The board has had four members since the resignation of Julian Wren this summer.
Bee staff writer Nan Austin can be reached at email@example.com or (209)578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.