Cheney to start as interim superintendent next week

South Kitsap School District Board of Directors president Kathryn Simpson confirmed that interim superintendent Beverly Cheney will start either Tuesday or Wednesday.

There was an option to begin earlier, but the school board initially targeted a Wednesday start date.

Simpson said Cheney, who was not available for comment, has other obligations to handle before that time. Despite that, Simpson said Cheney already is doing some work.

“She’s been meeting the staff and getting information to hit the ground running,” she said.

Cheney was selected as the district’s interim superintendent July 30 over Port Angeles School District Deputy Superintendent Michelle Reid. Another candidate, former Bainbridge superintendent Steve Rowley, withdrew from consideration. Cheney previously was SKSD’s superintendent from 2001-08. She succeeds Dave LaRose, who left last month to become superintendent of California’s Culver City Unified School District.

LaRose agreed to an 80-hour contract, at $86 per hour, with the school board for consulting services. That contract equals $6,880 and Simpson said it could reach as much as $8,000 when factoring in travel and other expenses.

“It’s not a small amount because it’s taxpayer money,” Simpson said. “It’s money well used to make sure those things stay on track.”

Simpson noted SKSD used money that previously was allotted to pay the superintendent during the time the position was vacant. According to information provided by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction through a (Spokane) Spokesman-Review newspaper public-information request, LaRose’s base salary for 2011-12 was $146,350 with other figures, including bonuses, stipends, insurance and benefits, bringing his total compensation to $171,756.

She said LaRose likely will consult Cheney in September through a weekend retreat to allow Cheney to transition to the position even though she previously was the district’s superintendent.

“We still believe it’s a good idea with the transfer of information,” Simpson said. “That’s pretty routine in companies with a transition, especially since it did not occur while Dave was still here.”

She noted there have been some philosophical changes in the district in the four years since Cheney left, including the transition to Policy Governance during the 2009-10 school end, which was crafted by John Carver to help board of directors to decide on “ends” rather than “means” to achieve its goals. It also establishes limitations on managerial “means” for its chief executive, which now is Cheney, and delegates achieving its ends to her.

In addition, the district has dealt with administrative transition since Cheney left. In a pair of budget-related reductions in 2011, LaRose laid off the district’s directors for human resources and community relations, while assistant superintendent for business and support Terri Patton retired. In April, deputy superintendent Kurt Wagner succumbed to cancer.

SKSD also is expected to put a maintenance-and-operations replacement levy before voters in February.

“Bev’s role this year is to be a stable influence and help keep the things we have going in motion,” Simpson said. “We have a lot of work to do this year.”


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