Oroville School Supt. asks OK to get out of contract

OROVILLE – While many suspected a shake up of the Oroville School Board, most were surprised when the superintendent asked release from his contract if he found another job.

There was no talk at last Monday’s meeting about reorganizing the board, an idea floated, and then tabled, at the previous board meeting. However, Steve Quick, whose contract was only extended for one more year following his evaluation on April 16, caught many off guard when he asked for an understanding from the board to let him out of his contract should he find employment elsewhere and that he had already applied for another job.

During his predecessors’ tenure, superintendent’s contracts were regularly extended for three-years following a positive evaluation. Although Quick’s evaluation was primarily positive, rather than extending his contract for three years, a majority of the board voted for the one-year extension. Several cited their own newness on the board for not extending the contract a full three years.

Prior to Quick’s request, School Director Rocky DeVon asked permission to place several letters of support for the superintendent in Quick’s file. He said he had received the letters from staff and parents.

“I move to put them in Mr. Quick’s file,” said DeVon.

“I agree,” added Director Amy Wise.

Board Chairman Phil Barker suggested the motion be tabled and that the placing of the letters in Quick’s file be put on the board’s next agenda.

“I guess from my perspective I’d like permission to be released from my contract if I’m offered another job in another area,” said Quick, who informed the board he had been making inquiries elsewhere. “If the board will not release me then I think they should readdress extending my contract.”

Quick said he had spent a lot of time and money on his education and the community and needed the assurance one way or another so he could plan for himself and his family.

After hearing several board members say they would not release Quick because they wanted him to stay, Chairman Barker asked to table the discussion until the next meeting.

“Mr. Quick does a lot for us as students and for the teachers. He often comes into the classroom to help,” said Katie Tieje, the student representative to the board.

“I guess what I want to know is are you open to me applying elsewhere, the window is closing for superintendent jobs, but I might be able to get a job as an assistant superintendent. I need to know because I’ve already applied for another job,” Quick said.

“I’ll release you,” but it doesn’t mean a thing,” said School Director David Nutt.

Director Christina Rise said,” You’ve got two more years left, come next spring you will still have 365 days to look for another job.”

In another matter, Barker asked to separate the rehiring of Mike Bourn as girls basketball coach from the list of other winter coaches to be approved for rehire. The other coaches, Allen Allie, head high school boys coach; Chad Mathews, assistant high school boys coach Chuck Ricevuto, head high school wrestling coach; Rick Kelly, assistant high school wrestling coach; Walt Arnold, junior high wrestling coach; Dane Forester, 8th grade girls basketball; Dehaven Hill, 7th grade girls basketball coach; Brian Martin, 8th grade boys basketball and Jared Starkel, 7th grade boys basketball coach, were all approved under a motion to approve a consent agenda.

When the board came to the discussion about rehiring Bourn, Barker said, “I am asking to do this because I think there is a problem with the girl’s basketball program.”

Barker, whose daughter is on the team, continued, “We haven’t had a parent meeting in three years. It is a very competitive high school basketball program and I just don’t see the girls having any fun.”

Director Rise said she didn’t think it was Coach Bourn’s fault they hadn’t had a parents’ meeting.

Student Representative Tieji endorsed Bourn as a coach, saying he was good at teaching the team the skills they need to win and that the team did have fun.

In response to Barker’s statements, Director DeVon said, “I’ve actually had the opposite response, parents have come to me and said if they get rid of Mike (Bourn) they’d move to wherever he was coaching. Mike is a good coach, I think you just have a personal problem with him.”

Director Wise added, “We shouldn’t be micromanaging, we have an athletic director. It is for Mr. Fancher to manage the coaches.”

Director Nutt acknowledged Barker’s concern, but said the board didn’t have anything on paper.

“If people have a problem with the coach they’ve had plenty of time to express it,” said Nutt.

Rise made a motion to rehire Bourn and it was seconded by DeVon and approved.

More on the Monday, April 23 school board meeting in the next issue of the G-T.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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