HARRISON – At a special May 24 meeting, the Harrison Community Schools Board of Education found itself in the desirable yet difficult position of having to choose from among four highly motivated and capable applicants. Those candidates interviewed to fill the vacancy created by the abrupt resignation of board trustee Dan Pechacek which was tendered and effective May 8.
There was some urgency to fill the position promptly, as a new superintendent of schools will be in place as of July 1, and a complete and competent school board will be essential to a smooth transition.
The candidates included former HCS Superintendent Tom House, former HCS Board member Roger Peterson, and community members/professionals Carrie Whitaker and Chelsea Roland.
As has been done when the board interviewed to fill previous vacancies, identical questions were posed which sought to inform the board of the candidates’ strengths, intentions, applicable skills and their take on what/where education is, should be and could be.
All spoke of their experiences, pointing out how those experiences would translate into priorities and decision-making value in service to the district. They also described their experiences in education, their philosophies on the elements of education which are working or need specific attention, and how they relate to HCS District on a personal level.
To a person, the candidates illustrated deep commitment to what they believe children/students need in varying circumstances, and the school’s obligation to address those needs with the goal of assuring students’ successful futures.
All the candidates opted to remain in the room during the interviews, as well as while board members discussed all they had heard and condensed four candidates down to one new trustee.
As had been noted during the questioning process – and the entire board emphatically agreed – school board members are elected to represent the desires/interests of their constituents. They also agreed that Tom House’s high level of education/administration experience would be a profound asset during the transition period for incoming HCS Superintendent Judy Walton.
Those elements, combined with House’s vast, respected efforts on behalf of education and his immediately declared intention to serve out only the current board seat term which ends Dec. 31, led board members to vote unanimously to hire House to fill the interim position. He was sworn in that evening and will join the board for its June 13 meeting.
Board members also spoke in glowing terms of the other three candidates and encouraged them to file by the 4 p.m. July 24 deadline to run for the three BOE positions which will be on the November ballot. Those include the interim seat filled by House, and the seats currently held by Kendra Durga and Chad Hathcock whose terms end Dec. 31.
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