Two interviewed for Whitewater school post

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Kevin Hoffman
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
— The Whitewater School Board met late into the night Tuesday, privately discussing whether to choose an internal candidate as the district's next administrator.

High school Principal Vance Dalzin and middle school Principal Eric Runez interviewed Tuesday for Whitewater's vacant district administrator job. The meeting capped off a 13-day search for internal candidates to fill the void left by Suzanne Zentner, who announced her resignation May 9. Her last day is Thursday.

The board went into closed session for two hours to discuss the candidates. They planned to issue a press release today naming their choice.

Two weeks ago, the board announced it would search internally for Zentner's replacement, either hiring someone full-time or naming an interim administrator to serve for one year. The process usually takes months and includes a nationwide search.

"This is the cutting-edge, what we're doing here," Board President Chuck Nass said. "I'm hopeful we will all be happier for it, and I think everything will work fine."

Board members feared the timing of Zentner's announcement limited the number of qualified candidates looking for work. They said if they were unable to find a permanent replacement within the school system, they would organize a national search next year.

Dalzin and Runez each were interviewed for nearly an hour, answering two-dozen questions from board members, parents and teachers. They described similar visions, planning to strengthen communications and closely analyze spending.

They also expressed a desire to expand programs at Lincoln Inquiry Charter School if it proves to be successful.

"As a result of the charter school, we're already going to grow a great deal," Dalzin said. "We have to accept that eventually that could be part of the district."

Dalzin has been principal at the high school for 12 years. He was offered the superintendent job at Clinton School District in 2007 and last year was a finalist to become principal at Craig High School in Janesville.

Runez has been the middle school's principal for the last six years, coming to the district from Johnson Creek.

He applauded the board's efforts to find an administrator within the district instead of conducting a nationwide search.

"I hope that through my work here over the last six years, you've seen the character traits and skills through my work here that would make you feel confident that I could be your next district administrator," Runez said.

Zentner, who spent two years in the school district, accepted a job in Phoenix as national director for K-12 education with the Apollo Group. The corporation owns various for-profit schools such as the University of Phoenix.

Some community members who attended Tuesday expressed concern over a lack of notice about the interviews. The meeting was announced two weeks ago, but they said they didn't know until recently any candidates had applied.

Last updated: 5:20 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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