School board agrees to widen search for new Oroville superintendent

OROVILLE – After a public backlash over a decision to search for a new superintendent from within the district, the Oroville school board agreed to expand the search to a wider range of candidates.

Dr. Ernie Bartelson, who will be retiring as superintendent at the end of June, said he had spoken with Dr. Rich McBride of the region’s Educational Service District. McBride has agreed to contract with the district for $7500 to conduct the superintendent search.

“Normally the cost for a district our size is $10,000 to $12,000. For a big district it can be up to $50,000 to conduct the search,” Bartelson said to the board. “I’ll have him contact you and set up a time to meet with you.”

The superintendent said the district could have candidates to interview as early as January, but it may be more like February.

“He will be in charge of talking with the board to get information on qualifications and personality. He will also do broad advertising of the position. He will then receive applications, screen them and do background checks. Finally he will give you the very best three, four or five candidates he thinks you should talk to,” Bartelson said.

The outgoing superintendent said McBride had spent a long time on the phone with him expressing his concern over phone calls, letters to the editor and petitions from the community regarding the board’s original plan to try searching from within the district.

“Some have been pretty blatantly anti-Steve Quick… candidates will read the local newspaper and candidates could pass us up if they see negatives,” said Bartelson.

Quick is Oroville’s High School Principal and was the only qualified candidate for superintendent working within the school system at the time the board had said they wanted to search the district first. A letter from the Oroville Education Association and the Oroville Coaches’ association appeared in last week’s issue of the Gazette-Tribune asking the district to open up the superintendent search to a wider range of candidates. A petition with more than 300 signatures of community members had also asked the same thing.

“I say let the process work and let him do what he does best,” concluded Bartelson, about McBride.

Phil Barker, write-in candidate for Position 5 on the Oroville School Board, was the only person who signed up to give public comment.

“I applaud the open search process. I think it will go a long way towards mending a few wounds in the community,” Barker said.

Blane Wagner, student representative to the board, gave his monthly report.

“We had a great Homecoming Week, with something different every day, even fake an injury day, although some of us didn’t have to fake it. It was amazing how much pride the students have,” said Wagner.

He also talked about the Senior Auction and the Homecoming Dance and that the students were planning a Veterans Assembly.

In his principal’s report, Elementary School Principal Joe Worsham said it was Read at Home Month and the elementary students had read 7,783,445 words so far. He also said the kids had taken 2,053 quizzes and were averaging 88.2 percent correct answers. The theme for the Read at Home Month is “All Aboard the Learning Express.”

Worsham said the students were also collecting post cards from all around the U.S. and the world and that they had over 400 so far.

“It’s really cool… really very interesting,” he said, encouraging the public to come and have a look at them on display in the halls of the grade school.

He also reported that the elementary had several students who were absent, many with the flu, and that the illness was particularly bad last week.

Principal Quick, in his report, said that the flu had also struck the high school.

“I think it hit us almost as hard, but the older kids typically don’t want to miss school.

In addition, Quick reported on the recent Washington Association of Student Councils Conference in Vancouver, Wash. on Oct. 9 to 11. He said Oroville provided the bus and picked up kids from six other schools on the way there. He said he felt it was a valuable experience for the kids.

He gave credit to Maria Brown, ASB President, for much of the success of Homecoming Week and said that the high school had once again earned its accreditation.

“And for varsity sports… football needs to win the next couple games to reach the play-offs and there are similar situations for volleyball and soccer,” said Quick.