Burton commences search for new superintendent
The Burton School District will hold an open-session special board meeting at 5 p.m. Feb. 6 to allow its Board of Directors to speak with district Deputy Superintendent Sharon Kamberg.
The decision was made Thursday evening during a special open-session meeting in the Burton School District Board Room.
Burton School District’s Superintendent Gary Mekeel submitted a letter of intent to retire in December. The letter was accepted by the Board on Dec. 17.
Mekeel has been superintendent of the district since July 1, 2009. He also served as superintendent for the Burton District from 1990 to 2006.
Thursday’s special meeting included a study session to review the board’s interest, process and criteria in the selection of the district’s superintendent succession.
During the study session, John Burkey, the district’s most newly re-elected board member, said he wanted to see four key things in the search — transparency with a relationship with the board and responsibility for policy; someone with leadership skills; someone with trust and respect who is approachable; and a superintendent who is child-centered.
“I want someone who thinks of the child first. Not the organization. Not the finances,” Burkey said.
Other important factors, he said, include community involvement, someone who’s experienced, and he would prefer it not be a new person. The ideal person, he said, should work well with non-government sources, as well as respecting and being respected by the Burton staff. Burton board member Jay Rice added that he would like the candidate to have a doctorate degree.
Board member Shelbie Akin echoed those sentiments almost identically in describing qualities she’d like to see in the district’s next leader.
“There’s not much more I can add on top of that,” she said.
Mekeel and the board debated several options, including seeking a successor from within the district and going to an outside source to seek candidates, and also talked about “growing your own.”
“We have five months. Obviously, we don’t want to wait. We want the person here now,” Hernandez said. “That’s my concern right now — the process.”
Hernandez also asked if the board wanted the expense and process of going outside the district.
Mekeel offered information from different consultants who can recruit and offer 10 to 15 of the best candidates to the district. He mentioned the Tulare County Office of Education could also help in some respects.
“Or, we can also keep the search entirely in-house,” Mekeel said. “We can bring superintendents from the county to help screen applications before coming in. You can use a consultant with the county or we can use talent in the district.”
Among the talent is Sharon Kamberg, a former assistant superintendent who was named deputy superintendent during the Aug. 6 board meeting when Mekeel announced the reconfiguration of the district’s administrative staff and responsibilities.
“Prior to creating a search that will extend outside our district, the board will speak with Dr. Kamberg to get a sense of responsibilities and of the career path she’s taken to become deputy superintendent,” Mekeel said. “This is a continuation on making a determination if there is an in-house candidate.”
Kamberg has been with the district for many years, working as an instructor, in special education and serving as school principal at Oak Grove Elementary and Jim Maple Academy.
The Feb. 6 meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Burton School District Boardroom, 264 N. Westwood Street.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.