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Frazee super to stay another year

Chuck Cheney

The Frazee-Vergas School Board approved hiring interim superintendent Chuck Cheney for one more year, which caused applause from audience members -- largely made up of district staff.

On Feb. 1, the school board has a working session to discuss personnel changes within the district and about where the district should go with hiring a superintendent.

Monday night, during the regular school board meeting, all the board members agreed that the district needs a full-time superintendent, just not immediately.

In a 6-1 vote, with Keith Janu voting opposed, the board agreed to extend Cheney's contract to provide part-time superintendent duties, for a total of 135 days.

"We all want what's best for this district," Cheney said before being offered the extension.

He said that at the Feb. 1 meeting, some board members asked him if it was an option to stay on another year. He said Monday that he had needed to think about it, and that he would stay one more year but no longer.

"Make no mistake, I'm not lobbying for a job," he said.

His recommendation to the board was to hire a full-time superintendent.

Board members said that they wanted to keep Cheney another year because they will be asking voters to replace an expiring operating levy this fall, and it would be best to have his leadership and stability in place through the referendum process.

Board member Rich Ziegler also said that having Cheney on board another year would give the district a better opportunity to advertise and search for a full-time superintendent next year, since it's already February.

Board member Steve Jepson said the district is still in the midst of a transition period and keeping Cheney on another year -- though he agreed the district needs a full-time superintendent at the right time -- will help when it comes time to reach out and "sell to the community what's needed" to get a referendum passed.

"I would be much more comfortable with full-time," board member Dana Laine said, whether that was Cheney or someone else, she added.

"I think we need a full-time superintendent," Janu said.

While Cheney had agreed to be the "fall back" if the board couldn't agree on a full-time candidate, he said Monday that that may not be wise either.

"How do you decide if the safety valve is better than the best candidate?" he asked, meaning it would be better to take him out of the equation if the board wants to hire someone new.

"I want his leadership," board member Jim Nelson said, adding that that's needed to get a referendum passed.

Laine said that if the district was keeping Cheney another year, she wanted a superintendent evaluation -- so new board members knew the process -- and a goal setting session.

After the motion to hire Cheney for another year at part-time status passed, the board agreed that his contract should go through a negotiations process.

"That process will go quite easy," Cheney assured.