CHIMACUM — Chimacum School District continues to search for a superintendent for the 2021-22 school year following a surprising split vote during a meeting last month.
Board members Jack McKay expressed a number of concerns about the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, leading him to make a motion on June 10 to table the search for a new superintendent and extend Superintendent Rick Thompson’s contract while the district combats the impacts of COVID-19.
“The uncertain conditions of school operation long-term because of the virus causes great concern to me into how the school will open, and will it be the same?” McKay said.
“I’m also very concerned about the stability of leadership in the district and the cohesiveness of a team that seems to be doing very well at the current time in bringing us through this with fairly good communication and what some of the expectations are.
“I am very uncertain about a new person, having neither the background nor the skill or experience to figure out how this district operates.”
McKay said he has been very pleased with the leadership of Thompson through the public health crisis.
In March 2019, the school board voted not to roll over Thompson’s contract another year. A month later, the Chimacum Education Association called for a vote of no confidence in Thompson’s leadership, citing declines in enrollment in Chimacum schools and what the association said in a press release was a “lack of vision,” respect and transparency on his part.
In May, the board announced that Thompson’s contract would expire at the end of June 2021, making McKay’s motion to extend Thompson’s contract all the more shocking to the board chair.
“This is totally outside the norms of surprises and not informing the chair, this is totally outside our operating principles,” said Kristina Mayer, board chair, at the time.
“I find it totally outrageous that you would do this, Jack, that you wouldn’t bring it through the correct channels.”
The motion failed in a 2-2 vote. McKay and Sarah Martin voted yes while Mayer and Tami Robocker voted no. Mickey Nagy abstained.
Mayer continued to express her disappointment in McKay’s actions, saying he had not brought up the idea during executive-session discussions about Thompson’s contract.
Martin said at the June meeting that events had changed since the last action on the contract and that it was fair it be revisited.
“We are asking for action to be taken, which I think is appropriate,” she said. “For one, on the agenda we are talking about the superintendent search. For two, we are in the middle of a crisis right now, conditions that did not exist during prior discussions.”
During its June 24 meeting, the Chimacum school board discussed the next steps for its search for a new superintendent, which will be decided during its retreat this summer.
The board will participate in a team-building session to put together a search for a new superintendent, with the hope of hiring one by mid-March 2021.
The district hopes to issue a request for proposal on Sept. 1 from employee search firms.
Incidentally, the district has also been invited to partner with the Port Townsend School District in a cost-sharing effort as both districts are in search of new superintendents.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].