Prescott superintendent search moves ahead

The School Board, with nine applicants in hand for the position, is poised to hire a search consultant.

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PRESCOTT -- The Prescott School Board expects to take action Monday to get the cart behind the horse by hiring a superintendent search consultant.

The action comes nearly two months after the board approved Superintendent Carolyn Marsh's request for retirement during a work session at Broetje Orchard's retreat house June 14.

Marsh was hired as superintendent and elementary principal in 2007. She replaced Scott Harris, who held the helm at the district for 15 years.

Former Prescott teacher Sandra Carpenter questioned the board's actions following Marsh's retirement/resignation during a board meeting July 29.

Carpenter retired in January 2009.

Carpenter asked the board if "The Job Jar" was one of the first sites where the K-6 Principal/Superintendent opening was posted. The site is described as "listing of temporary work jobs available in middle Tennessee."

Marsh had directed the district business manager to post the position on The Job Jar site. At the regular June 24 board meeting, Prescott Education Association president Chris Petroni said he and others were puzzled that the posting was on an obscure website based in Tennesse, and was the only posting related to education.

"It seems to me that you would want and need a broad field of applicants for such a position," Petroni is quoted in the board minutes.

Board chair Karen Tonne said the board would look into it, because the "board definitely wants the biggest field of high quality applicants," according to board minutes.

Later in that meeting board members asked Jacobson to post the opening on usual and customary sites. Subsequently the opening was advertised in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Tri-City Herald, and the Washington School Director's Association website. The classified advertisement in the Union-Bulletin ran for three consecutive Sundays, beginning July 4.

The position closed July 19, with nine applicants. The board accepted seven of the applications during an executive session July 29.

Marsh, whose current salary is $103,270, said in a June 24 letter addressed to "faculty, colleagues and friends" that she wished to re-enter retirement status so she can claim her pension.

"However, I am still very interested in continuing in my leadership role in the Prescott School district," Marsh wrote.

By retiring, Marsh forfeited the three-year contract the board offered in December.

Marsh was in retirement status when she was hired by the Prescott district in 2007. The Pomeroy native has a 40-year background in education. She has taught in Vancouver, North Shore, Issaquah and Kent districts, and held a superintendent/principal position in Mason County.

She holds a doctorate degree.

In her letter Marsh said her action was risky, because the school board would review applications and seek a qualified match for the district.

If Marsh should emerge as the most qualified candidate, the board would offer her a one-year contract.

Rules are clear for post retirement employment for school employees who are under TRS and PERS Plan 1 retirement plans.

One of the rules requires a break in service between the retirement and the rehire of at least 45 days if the employee will work up to 1,500 hours in a school fiscal year. If an employee works beyond that limit, pension payments will be stopped.

The district also has a policy that clearly outlines procedures for retire/rehire, including "no prearranged employment agreement or commitment to rehire an employee after retirement."

As part of the conditions of her employment, Marsh has lived in district-owned housing rent-free. Since retiring, she continues to live in the home, but pays $350 per month rent, which is the rate for all district housing. The rent-free arrangement is allowed because the district requires Marsh to live in the housing provided.

The special board meeting Monday begins at 6 p.m. in the district board room.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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