Den­nis asked to ap­ply for Boise su­per­in­ten­dent

The Idaho Statesman - - News - BY KEVIN RICHERT Ida­hoEdNews.org

Boise’s deputy su­per­in­ten­dent is on the fast track for the dis­trict’s top job, af­ter a hastily ar­ranged school board meet­ing Thurs­day.

Bar­ring a hic­cup in the in­ter­view process — some­thing board Pres­i­dent Nancy Gre­gory called “highly un­likely” — Coby Den­nis could have a job of­fer by Dec. 21, when the dis­trict goes on hol­i­day break.

Trustees voted to in­vite Den­nis to ap­ply for su­per­in­ten­dent — which, in essence, means Den­nis is the dis­trict’s sole can­di­date. The vote wasn’t unan­i­mous, as two trustees urged the board to con­sider ex­ter­nal ap­pli­cants.

“What is the rush?” trustee Den­nis Doan asked. “I’m ad­vo­cat­ing for an open process. … We should take our time. We should be trans­par­ent.”

The board’s vote came one day af­ter Su­per­in­ten­dent Don Coberly went pub­lic with his plans to re­tire, ef­fec­tive June 30. That news broke only af­ter the board posted an agenda for Thurs­day’s mid­day meet­ing, barely meet­ing the 24hour no­tice re­quired by state law.

Thurs­day’s meet­ing took 28 min­utes. For the first 13 min­utes, trustees took turns prais­ing Coberly’s ca­reer at the Boise dis­trict be­fore vot­ing to ac­cept his re­tire­ment. Trustees spent the re­main­ing time dis­cussing the dis­trict’s suc­ces­sion plan.

Trustee Maria Gree­ley urged the board to stick with a plan that pro­vides staffers with a chance at ad­vance­ment and gives the dis­trict a re­turn on its in­vest­ment in staff de­vel­op­ment.

Sev­eral trustees dis­missed the idea that the process is be­ing rushed. They said Coberly’s re­tire­ment has been im­mi­nent for years. Gre­gory also said trustees held a Nov. 30 work ses­sion with Idaho School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion staff to dis­cuss hir­ing op­tions.

The board’s new­est mem­ber urged trustees to slow down.

Doan, ap­pointed dur­ing Oc­to­ber, said he didn’t want to dis­cour­age in­ter­nal can­di­dates from ap­ply­ing for the su­per­in­ten­dent’s job. He took pains to say he wasn’t crit­i­ciz­ing Den­nis, a dis­trict em­ployee since 1991. But he said trustees needed to take the time to hear from par­ents, fac­ulty and the rest of the com­mu­nity.

Den­nis did not at­tend Thurs­day’s meet­ing. And Coberly didn’t di­rectly ad­dress Doan’s mo­tion for an ex­ter­nal search. How­ever, Coberly asked Boise Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Stephanie My­ers to of­fer a per­spec­tive from the union.

Some teach­ers still re­mem­ber days when the dis­trict and the union were at odds, My­ers said, and mem­bers want to be sure the next su­per­in­ten­dent has their back. “I would sup­port stay­ing the course,” she said.

Ul­ti­mately, so did the board.

Doan’s mo­tion to open up a na­tional search failed on a 5-2 vote, with trustee Beth Op­pen­heimer sid­ing with Doan. On an iden­ti­cal 5-2 vote, trustees then in­vited Den­nis to ap­ply.

Most of the process will take place be­hind closed doors. Trustees will in­ter­view Den­nis dur­ing a closed ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion. There will be no pub­lic ses­sion to al­low par­ents, staff or stu­dents to ask Den­nis ques­tions, Gre­gory said.

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