James Repshire didn’t know the school board would be considering extending a permanent contract to USD 231 Superintendent Pam Stranathan during a January meeting. Repshire missed the meeting as he was recovering from knee surgery.
“This was note made clear that this was going to be done,” Repshire said at a Feb. 10 board meeting. “In the past, there has been a very specific process that came through the board. Every board member was always aware when those actions took place.”
His comments, during a portion of the meeting dedicated to board member commendations and notes, led to a contentious discussion.
Repshire said his criticism was not directed at Stranathan but at board leadership.
During the December meeting, which Repshire attended, board members did meet in executive session to discuss the possibility of making Stranathan’s contract more permanent or seeking to hire a new superintendent. Stranathan served as an interim superintendent for more than a year following the departure of previous superintendent Bill Gilhaus.
“We’re not going to play this game where those things didn’t show up in the previous agendas but now we’re going to make an issue of it,” board president Rob Shippy responded.
Repshire said Shippy has been critical that past school boards have lacked transparency, communication and accountability.
“I think when a board member isn’t aware that the superintendent’s performance will be evaluated, there’s no transparency, no communication and no accountability,” Repshire said.
Shippy said board members received superintendent evaluation information two days before the January meeting. He asked if Repshire would like to vote on the topic again and see where the board stands.
“I’m not going to babysit you. We’re through talking to you about it. We’re going to move on,” Shippy said.
The discussion didn’t end, however.
Repshire also said he was concerned that the board offered a multi-year contract to Stranathan.
“The majority of the board has established that we won’t offer a multi-year contract,” Repshire said.
He said the district had a multi-year contract in place with previous district administrator Gilhaus. Gilhaus was fired prior to the conclusion of his contract in February 2014.
“This board has set a precedence that we won’t set a multi-year contract unless it’s forced to,” Repshire said.
Shippy said he would not dignify Repshire’s concerns with a response.
“You’re not even making sense,” Shippy said. “No one else is complaining but you. You’re causing problems on your way out the door and I think everyone sees it and gets it.”
Repshire’s term on the board is set to expire in April. He is not seeking reelection.
“At the end of the day, we can vote on it and move forward or you can sit here and harp,” Shippy said.
Contentious debate pits two school board members against one another