Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Superintendent leaving Talawanda

Contract not renewed after this year

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Talawanda Schools Superintendent Susan Cobb will leave the district at the completion of this school year following the board's decision to not extend her current contract. “I'm looking,” Ms. Cobb said Tuesday. “The board deserves a superintendent they can be happy with. Certainly I will not be at Talawanda beyond July 2001.” That's when her contract expires.

        Typically, the Talawanda Board of Education votes to extend the contract of administrators a year before they expire, giving people a little more security, said William Vollmer, president of the school board. That didn't happen earlier this summer when the board evaluated Ms. Cobb, who is ending her second year as superintendent.

        “The board decided not to extend her contract,” Mr. Vollmer said. “It's simply a wake-up call that things aren't exactly the way we'd like them to be. She still has another formal evaluation to go through and a year left on her contract.”

        Neither Mr. Vollmer nor Ms. Cobb would elaborate.

        Mr. Vollmer said he could recall only two instances when the board decided not to renew an administrator's contract a year early since the board began the practice. In both cases, the administrators made changes in their final year and their contracts were then renewed.

        “We have not begun looking for a new superintendent,” Mr. Vollmer said. “As far as the board is concerned she has a year on her contract. She will continue to make recommendations and do her job.”

        But Mr. Vollmer did say he has received reference requests about Ms. Cobb from other organizations and he is not discouraging her from looking for employment elsewhere. He also said the board has asked assistant superintendent Phil Cagwin to work more closely with Ms. Cobb, so there would not be a gap should she decide to leave.

        “This has been the richest, most professionally fulfilling experience of my ca reer,” said Ms. Cobb, who said she would not be looking for employment elsewhere had the board extended her contract.

        The action is coming at a difficult time for the district. On Monday the board voted to put a 6.5-mill operating levy on the November ballot, and earlier this month board members crafted a position paper outlining what cuts would be made should the levy be defeated.

        The board has already imposed a hiring freeze and slashed almost $600,000 from this year's budget to avoid a $1 million deficit in 2002 and a $3 million deficit in 2003.

        “(This) should have no bearing on the levy. This levy is not about the superintendent. This levy is not about the board. This levy is about the needs of students and teachers throughout the district,” Ms. Cobb said. “Those needs need to be met regardless of who's on the leadership team at Talawanda.”


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