Superintendent to resume active role while board searches for replacement

After much debate over who should serve as acting superintendent, the school board has reached a decision: the current superintendent.

In November, the board announced that long-time Superintendent Howard Fetz would take a step back and assume a “consulting role” as he neared retirement and that the district’s principals and Shannon Powell, director of the district’s special services programs, would take on extra duties until a new superintendent was hired for the 2014-15 school year. Fetz will retire on June 30.

However, during a tense special board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19, the Estacada principals described a broken chain of command and called for an acting superintendent to be designated.

“We need some direction, we need some leadership,” Estacada High School Principal Scott Sullivan told the Estacada School Board.

“The chain of command was unclear. Clarifying that will be good for everybody,” said Dan Draper, principal of Eagle Creek Elementary.

During that meeting two names surfaced as likely front-runners for the acting superintendent position: Powell and Sullivan.

The board discussed the matter during two lengthy executive sessions before reaching a decision at a later time.

School Board Chairman Rick Mudrow told the Estacada News that Fetz will resume a more active role.

“It brings him back into a superintendent role with the building’s administrators,” Mudrow said. “Part of this decision is our recognition that they need some specific decisions.”

Mudrow had made clear during the Feb. 19 meeting that he preferred not to restore Fetz to his former role.

Mudrow said that he changed his mind in the interest of reaching a consensus with the rest of the board.

“As the board chairman, I believe it’s essential to attracting (superintendent) candidates to have a board that functions well together,” Mudrow said.

The board recently released a new organizational chart designating leadership roles for Fetz and Powell.

Fetz will head district policy, curriculum, athletics, transfers, transportation, food services, public relations, human resources and facilities operations.

The principals will report to him.

Powell will be in charge of student health care, labor relations, district operations, the charter schools, fiscal services, special services, title programs, SAFCO technology, and will serve as the district’s liaison for the education service district, Oregon Department of Education and legislation.

“The redefined roles essentially take us back to where we were earlier in the year,” Fetz said when reached for comment.

Fetz will work remotely until he returns to Estacada at the end of March.

Due to the closure of the North Annex trailer where Fetz previously had his office, it is unclear from which building Fetz will work.

“I believe the board listened and are doing their best to have a smooth transition while we look for a new leader for our district,” Sullivan said when reached for comment. “I’m pleased with their actions.”

Powell did not return calls for comment by press time.

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