April 29, 2008

Wiser, McKenna opposed RUSD superintendent pick

It wasn't unanimous this morning, but the Racine Unified School Board voted to offer the superintendent's job to Barbara Moore Pulliam.

The vote was 7-2. Opposed were Dennis Wiser and Julie McKenna.

Wiser voted no, he said, because "the community isn't totally comfortable with the process or the candidates, and the search would be better if we reopened it, so a thorough search could be done."
Board statement HERE.
In addition, he checked the test scores in Pulliam's former district, Clayton County, GA, and was not happy with what he found: "There are 50 different tests by the state of Georgia, and 36 of them went down in Clayton County over the last six years." Pulliam was superintendent for three years.

"One argument" raised in Pulliam's favor, he said, "is that the district is terribly dysfunctional. Well, that should make it easy for fixes."

McKenna, who was a member of RUSD's search committee, said, "Sometimes you have to listen to the people. I heard from a lot of people in the community, it was 2 - 1, sometimes closer to 1 - 1, that people wanted us to keep the search open. They weren't happy with the candidates we had, and the fact they had been bought out of their contracts in their past jobs."

McKenna said the three finalists "had a lot of accomplishments, and I was kind of surprised by their all having been bought out. I felt I should honor the people." She noted that RUSD has bought out almost all of its past superintendents: "I didn't want that repeated. The district hasn't had a good track record of bringing in superintendents from elsewhere. I wanted more local."

Finally, she noted, "I wanted more support for the superintendent. I will do everything I can to help her, but it's possible you can get the right candidate that people will accept."

Wiser, one of two board members who just took office Monday night (the other is Pamela Handrow), also said he will support whoever the board brings in as superintendent on July 1.

The board is just starting contract negotiations with Pulliam and expects to offer her a contract comparable with that former Supt. Tom Hicks had: a salary of $144,000 plus benefits. "She knows the range," Wiser said. "The quicker, the better."

Our coverage of the candidates began HERE.

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