Although it was not on the agenda for Monday's meeting, the Neligh-Oakdale Board of Education spent more than 15 minutes discussing Superintendent Kimberly Lingenfelter's contract and her resignation.
By the end of the agenda item, which was advertised as "discussion of/ information concerning/ action to choose a superintendent search service," newly elected board president David Wright refused several board members' request to put future discussion of her contract on an upcoming agenda.
Vice president Brad Higgins began the agenda item by presenting information on three superintendent search firms. Members discussed tabling the item until the firms could present themselves to the board at the Monday, Jan. 26, board retreat.
Newly appointed member Chris Ford asked if "before we look to spend $6,000, will there be an opportunity to discuss, I guess, the opportunity to look at the current superintendent leadership we have now?" Secretary Ryan Koinzan told Ford, "We can discuss it right now. We have an open meeting." Ford reiterated that he was simply asking whether or not future discussion would take place.
Wright allowed nearly 15 more minutes of what he later called "friendly discussion" that included both hiring a search firm and offering Lingenfelter a contract. At one point, Wright asked for "a two or three minute break," instructing Lingenfelter to look up the Superintendent's Transparency Act "to double check that before any more decisions are made." Wright was concerned about proper advertisement of her contract and whether she would be considered a new or old superintendent if she were offered a contract.
Board member Krista Schindler said she was hesitant on hiring a search firm out of concern over the fiscal responsibility of "spend(ing) $6,000 when we have a perfectly qualified candidate." She added, "I feel it's worth at least allowing the new board members the opportunity to work with Kim."
Koinzan said it was time to move on. "Mrs. Lingenfelter has given her resignation. It was accepted by the board during December, and I think it's time to move on and fire, find a new superintendent."
Wright later asked if all board members have the opportunity to put something on the agenda. Lingenfelter replied that board members must consult with either the board president or superintendent to do so.
"Boy, you just put me in a difficult position, didn't you?" Wright said to Lingenfelter. Wright said he had already stated his opinion and would not put discussion of Lingenfelter's contract on a future agenda.
"I'm going to remain with that position," he said. "I believe we should start with a search, and I believe we should keep everything on the up and up. And if it costs us $6,000 to hire the same person back, then so be it. But we need some structure to happen."
Shortly after that, Higgins asked Wright, "So you're saying you won't put it on the agenda?"
Wright replied, "I am saying I will not. I think I made myself clear."
Higgins asked a second time, "Just wanted to make sure we are clear. So you're refusing to put that on next month's agenda or the 26th?"
Wright confirmed again he would not and then acknowledged the discussion involving offering Lingenfelter a contract was not even on the agenda and said "we're just having a friendly discussion."
Chris Ford was appointed as the new school board member Monday night, replacing Del Ames who recently resigned. Click here for the story and video.