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USC Board makes its choice

By Staff | Mar 13, 2016

Keith Fleming will be the new superintendent at USC.

The decision has been made. The United South Central School District has its new superintendent for the 2016-17 school year and beyond with its choice of Keith Fleming.

After two full-day interviews with their top candidates, Fleming and Barry Schmidt, the USC School Board spent three hours debating the positive assets and concerns of each of the final two candidates.

According to the South Central Service Cooperative (SCSC), the board was encouraged to have either a 6-0 or 5-1 final vote on the candidate they felt was the best fit for the school district.

Board members had a list of superintendent attributes during the entire length of the search. These attributes were consistently referred to throughout the process to ensure the candidate was the right fit for USC.

The board looked through feedback sheets from the public and other boards that interviewed each candidate, resumes, reference letters, and their own input to come to their decision.

But it was not an easy one to make.

The first vote, that took place at 7:30 p.m. last Thursday, was a tie. Three board members chose Schmidt, and three chose Fleming.

After that, Harold Remme of SCSC handed out worksheets to the board members, allowing them to write down the top four assets each candidate brought to the table. After some discussion, another vote was made and the decision was still split down the middle.

Then, the board members discussed concerns of each candidate. The board had a lengthy discussion of the concerns of each candidate. And another vote took place.

This time, Fleming received one more vote for him, but according to SCSC’s success formula, the board was still lacking a 6-0 or 5-1 vote, so it was back to discussion.

“We have been spoiled with the work Dr. Jerry Jensen has done with our school district,” said board member Kathy Krebsbach. “I think we need to look at the candidate who can adhere to what Dr. Jensen has done for us, and model our mission here at USC.”

More discussion took place, highlighting both Fleming and Schmidt’s positive attributes that they would bring to USC. Then yet another vote took place.

Back to a tie.

Board members discussed issues such as financial experience with a school budget, administrative experience, and who the board believed would take USC to the next level of education.

“Barry Schmidt talked about not only preparing children for their future, but helping them achieve education for jobs that may not even be invented yet. That’s innovative and I think Schmidt would take us there,” said Mike Schrader of the School Board.

Around 10 p.m. that evening, debate became circular, and the same issues were being discussed, that’s when Schrader had an idea.

At the first set of interviews during the first week of March, the board filled out an evaluation form for each candidate to help them see, according to a point system, who was the best candidate.

“I say we go back to that,” said Schrader, to which board member Tom Legred agreed.

Remme of SCSC, said it was a good idea to look at a different way of deciding, since the board was at a stalemate.

And it seems Schrader’s idea worked.

Once the board members filled out the evaluation form, it became clear that one candidate was a better fit for USC than the other.

After the tallies were in, Fleming had 122 voting tallies and Schmidt had 110.

“If you look at these scores, you probably have a candidate,” said Remme to the board.

And the board agreed.

Once the board chose their candidate, Fleming was called by SCSC representative Remme to see if he would accept the position, which he did.

“He accepts and says thank you. He is very excited to get started,” said Remme on behalf of Fleming.

The board made a formal motion during their meeting to enter into contract negotiations with Keith Fleming, and the board approved 6-0 with no further discussion.

The next piece of the puzzle will be between SCSC’s Ed Waltman and the personnel committee at USC to finalize the contract for the superintendent candidate.