Wood County BOE hires deputy superintendent, elementary director

PARKERSBURG – Tuesday’s Wood County Board of Education meeting was a combination of welcomes and farewells as some ended their work with the school system while others took on new duties and titles.

Superintendent Pat Law, who retires at the end of this month, was not present at Tuesday’s meeting. The incoming Superintendent John Flint, who officially begins July 1, was sworn in Tuesday evening by Wood County Circuit Court Judge J.D. Beane.

Among the personnel changes Tuesday evening, Gihon Elementary School Principal Betsy Patterson was hired as Wood County Schools’ new deputy superintendent.

The board unanimously approved Patterson’s transfer to the newly created deputy superintendent position. As deputy superintendent, Patterson will oversee the district’s central office and report directly to Flint. The position was created as part of Flint’s reorganization plan for the central office.

The school board also voted 5-0 to hire Christie Willis, assistant director of Title I, as director of elementary schools. Willis replaces Joe Oliverio, who next month takes over as executive director of RESA 5.

Officials removed the vote from the agenda but included it on the addendum after a procedural error required additional interviews for the position after the agenda had been published. The additional interviews did not change the recommendation.

There was some question as to who the recommendation came from since Law did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. Officials said all of the recommendations on the agenda were from Law.

Board member Tad Wilson asked if Flint legally could conduct the interviews as Law’s designee since Flint was not yet an official employee of Wood County Schools.

Board members said they believed as long as an assistant superintendent sat in on the second round of interviews, those interviews and the subsequent recommendation were valid.

Board President Tim Yeater asked why interviews for the deputy superintendent position were not redone if they had to be redone for the elementary director position.

“There was only one candidate,” for deputy superintendent, Flint said. “The other person didn’t have the superintendent certificate so they had to drop out.”

“There was no violation of policy,” said Bob Harris, assistant superintendent of pupil and personnel services.

Harris retires at the end of this month. The assistant superintendent position is being eliminated and the salary used to pay for the deputy superintendent.

Tuesday’s meeting was the last night for two board members – Wilson and Jim Fox – who lost in the primary election. The new board members – Jim Asbury and Peggy Smith – will be sworn in at the next board meeting July 7.

The board Tuesday unanimously approved Smith’s resignation as a substitute bus driver.

“She cannot be a board member and work for the board of education,” Harris said.

Officials also discussed the pay ranking of John Merritt, the director of Title I programs for Wood County Schools. Under a salary schedule developed by Law, Merritt is effectively paid as a Director III, but under Flint’s reorganization Merritt is ranked below the director of curriculum, who is a Director III.

Board members said they were concerned it could lead to a grievance issue over pay and chain of command. The change would increase Merritt’s pay by $7,000 a year.

Harris recommended the salary schedule be revisited by Flint, but Finance Director Connie Roberts asked for the schedule to be approved as is with the exception of Merritt’s pay change.

“It’s certainly the right of the board to revisit this issue at any time,” she said.

The school board unanimously approved a modified salary schedule which kept Merritt’s pay at its current level and plans to address the issue at a later meeting.

Board members addressed the hiring of an assistant coach as its own issue Tuesday. Yeater requested a recommendation to hire Eric Hunkele as an assistant coach for Parkersburg High School girls soccer for the 2014-15 school year be pulled from the personnel consent agenda.

“Due to past issues with him, I cannot support him as a coach,” Yeater said. “He may be a fine coach, but I can’t do it.”

Board members voted to discuss Hunkele in executive session. After a less than 10-minute closed-door session, the board returned to open session and the recommendation to hire Hunkele died for lack of a motion.

No further discussion on the issue was held in open session.