NASELLE - The search continues to find a replacement for Gerald Schmidtke, the part-time superintendent of the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District. Schmidtke will retire at the end of the current school year.

The school board, at its regular monthly meeting held last week, voted to go with not less than half-time and not full-time (basically advertised as half-time) in the search for a new superintendent as described by new board Chairman Steve Sultemeier.

In an e-mail statement, Sultemeier said, "As for my view of the board's decision to go with a part-time superintendent versus a full-time superintendent, I expressed - during the two open meetings - possible ways to fund a full-time superintendent position. I believe the board as a whole looked at this issue because the community feedback from the petition and the superintendent survey reflected that desire. The board discussed ways to financially support a full-time superintendent.

"However, the feedback the board was getting from the current superintendent/business manager and other administrators was we cannot afford to pay for a full-time superintendent without cutting other programs: the (state) government has not increased the dollar amounts to support the superintendent's position in the past 20 years, so the burden falls on the districts to resolve administrative inflation, as well as unfunded mandates like the WASL.

"These are issues that the board and district administrators have to face today and with funding projections worse in the next couple of years, tougher decisions are sure to come. Trying to think outside the box, cutting or shifting administration (principal's) pay or positions was also discussed, but the final result from this discussion was the board was told the funding could not be shifted, because it would only be lost.

"Another idea mentioned by a board member was to have the superintendent work less hours per day and work more days per week, still making the superintendent half-time, which would place the superintendent on campus more times per week.

"The board finally decided to go with not less than half-time and not full-time (basically advertised as half-time): the true amount of time will need to be discussed and decided once the total job responsibilities for the superintendent, are negotiated. We can only hope to find a leader that would be willing to give full-time on rural pay.

"The board also considered the fact that the community wanted a superintendent that would be very active in the district, i.e., attend school functions, community meetings/functions, connect with other resources to possibly improve the district as a whole, and cook a few hot dogs during the Finnish American Festival. These are functions that a part-time superintendent might not attend often if he/she did not live in the area.

"Not all board members were convinced that a superintendent should be required to live in the area, however, the voted desire of the board turned out to be the superintendent should live in or near the district. There was more discussion regarding these two issues but I believe this pretty-much sums it up," Sultemeier said.

Sultemeier, in a separate e-mail, later added, "Districts have not received any additional funding from the (state) government for the superintendent's position in the last 20 years. I just received a call from (longtime board member) Arne Wirkkala stating that it is (the same) for all administrative costs, which would include principals. This should have been inclusive of my original comment so that the community can see one more reason why districts are not receiving the support they should from the government."

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