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Board approves superintendent’s resignation

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 2:21 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 1:56 a.m. CST

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Clarke Superintendent Benita Gonzales is resigning her position.

Clarke Community School Board approved her resignation during a school board meeting Monday night.

The board room was packed during the meeting and seating became limited to standing room only. Jim Audlehelm, former Clarke school board member, was also in attendance.

Gonzales’ letter of resignation to the school board states, “I am submitting my letter of resignation effective June 30, 2014, so I may pursue other professional opportunities. It is also my hope that notice at this point will give the district appropriate time to conduct their search for a replacement. I have had the pleasure of working with many quality people and have enjoyed the time spent at Clarke. I appreciate the opportunity to have been a part of Clarke CSD and wish the very best for the future of this learning community.”

Public comment

During the public comment section of the school board meeting, Janine Nelson was the only person to speak about the superintendent’s resignation.

Nelson said she has been present during open board meetings and is aware of the leadership criteria in what makes a good superintendent.

“As a dedicated member of this taxpaying public, I expect no less from each of you,” Nelson said to the school board members.

Nelson requested the board pull Gonzales’ resignation from the other personnel resignations and recommendations and be voted on as a separate item during the meeting.

However, that didn’t happen.

Gonzales spoke to the crowd when addressing her resignation.

“I would like to say that I have very much appreciated working with many of the people here,” she said. “It’s been an outstanding experience. Some excellent people that are really fired up about what’s going on at Clarke, and I think that there’s some really fantastic things that are happening and I’d like to see that continue.”

Talk about town

For the past week, the office of Osceola Sentinel-Tribune has received many questions about the rumor of Clarke Community School Board not renewing Gonzales’ one-year contract.

Gerard Linskens, Clarke School Board president, said he wanted to address the rumors.

“These are the facts,” Linskens said. “We did have a closed session during the last board meeting regarding the mid-term performance evaluation of the superintendent, which is customary for us to do. No actions can be taken in a closed session, and of course, no action was taken during a closed session.”

According to Linskens, no more information about the closed session can be shared.

“It’s pertinent just like with anyone else’s performance in any particular job. It’s confidential information,” he said.

Contract

It’s been less than a year since the school board hired Gonzales. In April 2013, the board announced a one-year superintendent contract was awarded to Gonzales, who was the shared superintendent of Sigourney and Tri-County Community school districts.

The board offered Gonzales a one-year contract starting July 1. This included a salary of $130,000 and cafeteria plan for insurance — a type of employee benefit plan — of $1,000 per month.

The contract also included 30 days of sick leave, which would consist of 20 days of sick leave from Gonzales’ former school districts, and 10 days of sick leave Clarke offers for the first-year position.

The contract also had 20 vacation days and $5,000 toward moving expenses.

Positions

In 2013, Clarke School Board had to replace four administrative positions within the district — superintendent, curriculum director, activities director and elementary principal.

In 2014, the board will once again have to look for a new superintendent.

Linskens said the process of a superintendent search will begin soon.

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