Richland School Board to start search for superintendent

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 23, 2013 

The Richland School Board doesn't want to waste any time in finding a replacement for dismissed Superintendent Jim Busey.

School board Chairman Rick Jansons will contact Gene Sharratt, the consultant who worked with the board to hire Busey, about starting a search for a new superintendent. Board members said they wanted to meet with Sharratt as early as this week in a public meeting.

Board members said they don't anticipate the process being difficult, as they conducted a search only three years before when Busey was hired. However, it's not known what the pool of candidates is like. They also said they're facing a time crunch if they want someone hired before the fall.

"I do think time is of the essence," Jansons said.

The board dismissed Busey on Tuesday afternoon after more than two months of investigation into two relationships he had -- one with an employee at Jefferson Elementary School and another with a woman who supervised student teachers in the district but is not directly employed by the district.

The board said the relationships violated the "morality clause" of Busey's contract.

Busey was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 10.

Rich Puryear, the district's finance director, has been appointed acting superintendent. He and the board agreed Tuesday night that he will continue until a permanent replacement is found.

Most of the board members said they wanted Sharratt, who works for search firm Northwest Leadership near Spokane, to aid in the search because of his previous work for the district. Sharratt had recommended the district hire Busey in the winter of 2010.

"A firm will have better connections with possible candidates," said Vice Chairwoman Heather Cleary.

Jansons said the district could conduct the search itself but while that idea appealed to him, it would be time consuming for board members and the district's senior administrators.

Regardless of how the search is conducted, board member Rick Donahoe said he wanted more involvement from district staff in the process.

"I think our current senior staff knows people in the state and will be able to assist," he said.

Donahoe added he didn't want to bring someone in to change the already good work senior administrators are doing nor is a specialist needed in any specific area of education or administration.

Also Tuesday:

w The board will hold its meetings for the next three months on the second and third Wednesdays of the month to accommodate Donahoe's schedule.

The change is temporary. Donahoe is taking courses at Washington State University Tri-Cities through April which meet during the board's usual meeting time on Tuesdays.

w Board members could possibly consider capping enrollment at White Bluffs and Badger Mountain elementary schools at a future board meeting. The schools are over capacity in a part of south Richland that steadily is growing.

Board member Phyllis Strickler recommended the board look at the issue, suggesting the district require any new students to the area be bused to other district schools, even if they live within walking distance of one of the south Richland schools.

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