By Sarah Pridgeon
Jeff Carrier was officially appointed as Crook County School District’s interim Superintendent at a special meeting of the Board of Trustees on Wednesday. He will fill the position until June 30 next year, or until the board appoints a permanent replacement, and hopes to usher in a period of stability and consistency during that time.
As he is anxious to begin integrating himself back into the system before the Christmas break, explained Attorney Mark Hughes, Carrier’s contract was presented to the board at the special meeting and unanimously approved. He will be considered a part-time employee until the new year, when he will take on the role in a full-time capacity.
Carrier, who was Superintendent for 15 years and Principal before that for five, was contacted after November’s board meeting by Hughes and Trustee Ken Rathbun.
“It’s been seven years since I was Superintendent. I’ve done a lot of things in that time, but I’ve stayed pretty active with schools – it’s my passion and I hope I can be of help,” said Carrier.
“My greatest hope is that, when the board looks for a new superintendent, the candidates can go into any school and say, ‘You know what? I want to be here.’ You won’t get a good person unless the district is looking good – you want an environment and atmosphere that will help you recruit the very best person you can get, and that is what I’m hoping to create.”
Carrier requested the board’s feedback to help him understand the needs of the district over the coming months. “I’m very open to questions you may have for me. I would like your feedback on where you want to go – that’s the only way I’ll know that I’m meeting your needs in getting ready for the new superintendent.”
The board agreed to discuss their requirements at an upcoming work session and formalize a cohesive charter that details the goals and needs of the district. Carrier was meanwhile invited to share his thoughts on what he can bring to the role.
“I’m not here to make big changes but, overall, I hope to bring stability and consistency to the district,” said Carrier. “I think we had that before and can have it again.”
“When people feel secure in their jobs and can predict what’s going to happen tomorrow, it brings the stability we need to move more strongly ahead,” he continued. “My style is basically ‘management by moving around’ – I spend as much time as I can in the schools and classrooms to give people the opportunity to talk to me informally. This helps to build trust and a cohesive working group.”
Vice-Chairman Steve Blakeman commented that he remembers Carrier’s methods from his own high school days. “We knew who you were because you were there all the time. Visibility is good, and I admire that about you,” he said.
Carrier also highlighted accountability as an area he will focus on. For procedures such as evaluation sign-offs, he explained that it’s important to make sure things are completed in a linear manner.
“I want to see it done, know how it was done and be able to prove it was done,” he said. “That’s what management is about – making sure we have a track record.”
“I’m a policy person and I don’t like to make exceptions, because it’s easy to forget why they were made,” he went on. “Things may get a little more difficult before they get better as we start following those policies and I would like you to be aware of that.”
“Trust but verify, linearity – these are all things we need in a good leader, so I am very thankful you’re here,” commented Trustee Tracy Jones.
The board also discussed the finer points of Carrier’s contract at the meeting, based on discussion between the new superintendent and Hughes and Rathbun. Carrier’s salary will match that of Lon Streib and the usual four-month notice period has been altered to two weeks because an interim Superintendent is a “different scenario” to a permanent member of staff.
The requirement for the superintendent to be certified was lifted from Carrier’s contract as this is no longer necessary in Wyoming. Hughes told the board that Carrier was certified during his tenure as Superintendent and is just as qualified today.
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