Stottler criticizes school board president's solo act

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008
— A Janesville School Board member lashed out at the board president Tuesday for the way he handled the retirement announcement of Superintendent Tom Evert.

President DuWayne Severson called a news conference at 2 p.m. Friday to announce that Evert would retire June 30.

Lori Stottler read a statement when the board met Tuesday, questioning Severson's handling of the announcement.

Stottler objected to receiving a phone call just one hour before the news conference to tell her that Evert was announcing his retirement.

"No time to discuss, no time to come up with a unified plan of action," Stottler said after the meeting. " .. I want to really unify the board, and I want us to work together on projects, and I want us to be a whole group, and I don't think things like this will make us a whole group."

"No disrespect, President Severson. I'm just trying to get some answers," Stottler said at the meeting.

Stottler said she also objected to the selection process to replace Evert. Severson developed the plan with the help of Evert and Quint Studer of Studer Group, the company that is working on a districtwide quality improvement program.

Severson wanted to conduct the search and selection without a search firm, which he said could cost $30,000. Stottler said Milton recently used a search firm and chose a well-received superintendent for a fee of $5,700 plus expenses.

Stottler also suggested that Severson's actions were not among the duties of a school board president.

The board should have held a special meeting to announce the retirement and discuss the replacement process, Stottler said.

"I believe that seeing Dr. Evert's resignation or retirement and recommendations in writing prior to hearing it on the radio and TV and reading it in the newspaper could have better prepared the district for reaction in a more proactive way," she said.

Stottler said she was offended at the membership that Severson proposed for an executive committee to oversee the search. Severson suggested the committee comprise Severson, board personnel committee chairman Tim Cullen and three community members.

Stottler said Severson overlooked Debra Kolste, who is the most experienced member of the board and a past president.

Several board members said the personnel committee—Cullen, Kolste, Peter Severson and Bill Sodemann—should be on the executive committee.

Board members discussed Severson's proposal and Stottler's comments at length. They decided to schedule a special meeting to discuss the selection process.

Severson said he apologizes if anything he did was offensive. He said he had wanted to keep the announcement under wraps.

Board member Peggy Sheridan said there shouldn't be any question that board members could keep information confidential.

As for the selection process, Severson said he believes it was his role to come up with a plan.

"We had to start somewhere. We had to get the ball rolling, so that's why I put it together," Severson said.

Severson has said he wants the board to name a new superintendent by March.

In other business

In other business Tuesday, the Janesville School Board:

-- Agreed to a meeting to listen to a proposal from Energy Education Inc., which helps schools reduce energy consumption.

-- Sent the topic of possible naming rights for parts of the high school renovation projects to the buildings and grounds/finance committee. A list will be developed, outlining potential facilities that could be named, such as the new gymnasiums or the Parker High science wing.

-- Delayed discussion on a possible offer from the city of Janesville to transfer ownership of Monterey Stadium to the school district, because a letter from the city has not been received.

-- Postponed discussion of the recent staff and parent satisfaction surveys because a PowerPoint display would not work.

Last updated: 10:42 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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