By a 5-2 vote, the Park Hill school board has agreed to offer a contract to Scott Springston to be its next superintendent.
Springston, superintendent of the Valley Center School District near Wichita, was the only finalist for the post and was chosen through a process that did not provide a chance for public interviewing of any of the top candidates.
“The decision was a difficult one because we had such high-quality candidates,” board president Denise Schnell said in a statement after the vote. “I believe our community will be very impressed with Dr. Springston’s skills, leadership and vision.”
Schnell and vice president Janice Bolin cast the two votes not to offer the contract.
Many parents who were surprised by the choice had asked the board to take more time before making its choice.
Before the board went into its meeting, about 30 parents filled the lobby outside the board room, pressing board members as they entered to put off the vote and allow time for more public input.
“Please involve the parents,” Roxsen Koch asked board member David Cox.
Others held handwritten signs: “Please listen.” “Slow down.” “Delay the vote.”
Many of the parents had hoped the board would choose an internal candidate, Park Hill Deputy Superintendent Mark Miles.
Before going into the meeting, Schnell said the board followed a process requested by candidates at the advice of the search firm the board hired.
Districts often keep candidates’ identities private but allow public interviewing when the field has been narrowed to a few finalists.
“Our candidates asked for private interviews,” Schnell said.
The process started in October, soon after retiring Superintendent Dennis Fisher announced he would be leaving in June.
“We have not taken this decision lightly,” Schnell said. “I’ve done the best I can do. I’m sorry they are upset.”
Miles, who was revealed Tuesday as being an unsuccessful finalist for superintendent of the Westside Community Schools in Omaha, Neb., carried on as Park Hill’s deputy superintendent Tuesday.
He acknowledged the support of the parents while affirming he was backing the Park Hill school board’s choice of Springston.
“I’m flattered by all the support I’ve received, but my job is to support the school board’s decision,” he said. “There will be no stronger support for Scott Springston than from Mark Miles.”
Miles called Park Hill “a fabulous district,” though he added, “it is my career goal to be a superintendent.”
Parent Amy Heithoff-Dominguez said she still hopes to see Miles as Park Hill’s superintendent.
“I hope he will hang with us,” she said.
Springston was not in the meeting Tuesday but was at work in Valley Center. He did not return a phone message left at his office Tuesday.
Springston has been superintendent of the 2,691-enrollment district near Wichita since 2006.
He has been a middle school principal in the Blue Valley School District and taught middle and high school science in the Hays School District between 1992 and 1996.
Some parents were hoping for a choice who had more experience and worked with a larger district than Valley Center.
“We want to be wowed,” Heithoff-Dominguez said.
Schnell said the board was impressed with how well Springston valued collaboration with teachers, his financial management skills, and his strengths in classroom innovation and technology.
Koch wishes parents had the chance to take their own look before the board came to that conclusion.
“The decision has been made,” she said. “I know parents will be out Thursday evening (at the regularly scheduled board meeting) to express their opinions about how this transpired.”
She hopes the district will be able to make the transition without losing other administrators.
“We have to keep the talent we have in this district,” she said.