The transition from one Superintendent/Secretary-Treasurer to another in School District 10 hasn’t been the easiest recently.
After Denise Perry’s abrupt dismissal from the position, Terry Taylor took on the role as Acting Superintendent/Secretary-Treasurer while continuing to be District Principal of Learning at the same time. The Superintendent role isn’t completely new to Taylor who would take over duties when Perry was away, she told the Arrow Lakes News.
But the appointment of Taylor to the position wasn’t without controversy, fuelled in the most part by the lack of information about the process that led to the decision. Although the School Board wouldn’t go into the reasons behind Perry’s dismissal, Trustee Carol Bell cited “a bad fit” as the motivating factor.
“We wish her well wherever she goes,” said Board Chair Pattie Adam, “but it just wasn’t a good fit for us.
“Unfortunately we can’t talk about many of the things that happened with Denise,” said Adam, who added that the decision to have Taylor replace her didn’t happen overnight, although it may have seemed sudden to members of the community.
A lack of information about how and why the decision to replace Perry with Taylor brought Brian and Barb Graham to the Tuesday School Board meeting with questions. On June 20 Brian Graham sent a request to the board requesting information about the personnel policy and how a Superintendent/Secretary-Treasurer is selected.
“I tried to be as balanced as possible,” said Graham who spent 34 years in education in Greater Vancouver and detailed the selection process norm for senior district management positions. Usually, there is a district selection committee struck with representatives from the trustees, DPAC, teachers, and CUPE that votes to recommend a candidate to the board.
After outlining his understanding of the regular process, Graham then stated he hoped that the process would be transparent and open with all stakeholders involved and asked what is the process behind the hiring of the last few School District 10 Superintendent/Secretary-Treasurers.
Trustee Carol Bell assured Graham that the board has been following a rigorous process that included detailing the qualities and requirements for upper management positions with stakeholders. In the case of Denise Perry’s hire, the recruitment company Make a Future made a search for eligible candidates, checked references and recommended four candidates to the board who then conducted interviews.
“This year we had to act quickly and legally,” said trustee Lora Lee Brekke, who also told the press and public that boards have the right to appoint a Superintendent. “We chose to appoint for the stability of the district.”
“The cost to advertise and search is astronomical,” added Brekke, saying the cost was large for a small district like Arrow Lakes. Trustee Judy Struck added that because they had so recently done a search for the position, they knew what the community wanted and were able to use the criteria from that process and search again. This time they looked closer to home.
A letter from Pattie Adam, Chairperson of the SD 10 Board stated that “stability in the district is highly important,” and that “the length of time a job search would have taken would not serve the district well.”
The decision to appoint Taylor was not made lightly, the trustees emphasized.
“At no time did we make rash decisions,” said trustee Quinn De Courcey. “We went to outside sources to seek advice.” DeCourcey acknowledged public perception is important and that it is important that advice from many sources were sought and an unbiased decision was reached.
Adam’s statement acknowledged that Taylor is widely respected in the district, region and across the province.
“The majority of us have known Terry for a long time, we are familiar with her level of integrity,” said trustee Bell. “We offered her the job and she chose to take it.”
“We are confident that Terry Taylor will do an excellent job of working consultatively and collaboratively with all of our staff, our parents and our communities to serve our students throughout the district,” Adam wrote.
Although she is facing a steep learning curve, Taylor herself is confident that her experience will serve her well in her new position. For the moment, she is straddling the two positions, but recognizes that it’s temporary.
“I can’t continue two full-time jobs,” she told the Arrow Lakes News, although what positions will be posted in the future once she’s settled in to the Superintendentship is still to be decided. Taylor will be sitting down with Rod Allen of the Ministry of Education next week and looking where to go next.