2017-08-03 / Front Page

No severance pay offered to Nelson

With the clock ticking ever closer to the first day of school, the Suttons Bay Board of Education is scrambling to find an interim superintendent to prepare the district for the next school year.

The School Board met behind closed doors for 52 minutes Monday night to discuss a letter from its attorney, and emerged with a formal statement read by President Thor Mikesell.

“Per his contract, which was signed in December 2016, the district is obligated to pay (Nelson) up to 20 of his unused vacation days,” Mikesell read. “Beyond the contractual obligation there will be no severance package of any kind.

“This includes any monetary compensation, equipment, or technology belonging to the school district.”

The statement was followed by applause from the audience of more than 50 gathered in the upper level of the elementary school.

The School Board wasted no time in beginning its search for an interim superintendent. Its personnel and policy committee met yesterday afternoon to informally talk with possible candidates for the post. A list of possibilities was provided from the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District.

Among the list were Tom Stobie, retired Frankfort superintendent who attended Monday’s special meeting to express interest; Lee Sandy, who has served as an interim at schools throughout northern Michigan including Leland, and Mike Carmean, who retired June 30 after seven years as superintendent at Sandusky Community Schools. Carmen and his wife recently moved into the Suttons Bay School district.

Committee members said they hoped to narrow the field of candidates and perhaps hold public interviews with the full board at a special meeting set for 7 p.m. Monday in the upper level of the elementary school.

An interim superintendent could serve longterm.

“We’re no hurry to hire a new superintendent,” Mikesell said. “It’s going to be low on our priority list. We have a lot things to do between now and the start of school.”

The Suttons Bay Education Association has encouraged the School Board to take things slowly in its search for Nelson’s replacement.

“Take your time to find the right fit for a new superintendent,” SBEA co-chair Julie Smith said.

The union leader suggested the new superintendent have teaching and classroom experience. Nelson came to Suttons Bay three years ago from Harbor Springs, where he worked as director of technology and operations.

“It is difficult for a school leader to understand the needs of students and faculty without personal knowledge of the challenges faced every day in the classroom,” Smith said. “We hope to move forward in a spirit of mutual respect, appreciation, and cooperation.”

Mikesell assured the audience that the School Board has worked hard to do what’s best for the district — and will continue to do so.

“We looked forward to the upcoming school year and getting back to the business of educating our students,” he said.

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