Hayden Mike Luppes will return as Hayden School District’s superintendent.
The Hayden School Board, by a 3-2 vote, approved the move Wednesday night, making Luppes the district’s new half-time superintendent. School Board President Brian Hoza said Luppes will begin “right away” to replace outgoing Superintendent Greg Rockhold.
At the meeting, board members unanimously approved relieving Rockhold of his superintendent duties for the rest of the current school year. At the March 17 meeting, the School Board voted unanimously to not renew Rockhold’s contract for the 2010-11 school year.
Rockhold became the district’s superintendent in March 2008, replacing Luppes, who retired and now coaches the Hayden High School boys basketball team. Hoza said he will continue to coach the team in addition to his superintendent duties.
School Board members emerged from a nearly three-hour executive session Wednesday night and approved creating the half-time superintendent position and a full-time secondary principal position. Troy Zabel was unanimously approved as secondary principal.
At the March 17 School Board meeting, board members approved combining Hayden High and Middle schools into a grades 6 to 12 secondary school.
The measure was taken in part to eliminate a district administrative position. Hayden is working to address a projected 2010-11 budget shortfall of $495,000.
Hayden Valley Elementary School will remain as is, with students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Rhonda Sweetser, the school’s principal, was reappointed March 17 for that position next school year.
After Wednesday’s meeting, Hoza said Luppes will assume the full duties of the district’s superintendent but would only work half-time. He couldn’t say what Luppes’ salary would be, but he said those details would be worked out for the board to consider in time for the April 21 board meeting.
Kurt Frentress and Tim Frentress voted against the motion to create a half-time superintendent position and full-time secondary principal position.
“I just don’t feel like it’s a half-time position,” Kurt Frentress said after the meeting. “I feel it’s a full-time position. And I felt Troy (Zabel) was ready for the job. He really stepped up in the past month and helped out with the budget.
“Mike Luppes is more than qualified for the job. I have no problems with that. I just felt we had to go in a different direction.”
Zabel said it was a “disappointment” he wasn’t considered for superintendent.
With the approval of Luppes as half-time superintendent and Zabel as secondary principal, Gina Zabel’s position as middle school principal was eliminated. She left the meeting in tears.
Hoza said Troy Zabel would have preliminary responsibilities over the high school and middle schools. He said the district’s administrative team, now including Luppes, would work together to decide what specific duties would be for administrators and directors, including the vacant transportation director position. Rockhold had been filling in as transportation director.
In addition to staffing, Hoza said administrators would work together to come up with budget proposals for the School Board to consider at the April 21 meeting.
“We finish out the year with three administrators,” he said about Sweetser, Troy Zabel and Gina Zabel. “For the time being, we still have those three folks working together to make decisions. For next year, we have administrators who will come to us with what the structure looks like for middle school duties.”
Hoza said the School Board “has every intention of keeping” Gina Zabel in the district. Hoza said he hopes there are some possible roles that could be worked out for her.
When asked whether he was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, Hoza said the School Board has been faced with difficult decisions as it looks to make cuts for next school year.
“We have a lot of respect for all the people involved,” he said. “One of the most difficult things the board has to do is step back and make the best decisions for the district. We’re trying to minimize the impact on kids.
“Right now, the tension has been on the level of administrative structure a district our size has had, but it’s no longer feasible,” Hoza added. “Maybe someday we can get back to that as the district grows.”
Hoza estimated that the moves the district has made will save Hayden $130,000 to $150,000 in 2010-11.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail email@example.com.