Evidently long-time members of the local school board have convinced their fellow board members that anointing a superintendent is a much better way of operating than advertising the position and interviewing applicants.   While it is true that the last time they appointed a candidate who didn’t apply worked well, I still question whether a public agency should be operating in this manner.

There are advantages to exercising a democratic process of selecting the best candidate for the district superintendent.  Among them are; a) the board actually has to decide what they are trying to accomplish for students and then match up district leadership with the skills and experience that is likely to accomplish district goals; b) opening the selection  gives others in the district the chance to apply; c) it minimizes the risk of developing an “ol’ boy” system that favors those who court board members; d) it  gives the board a chance to interview candidates with new talents, experiences and/or perspectives.

I can’t think of a better way to promote provincialism than selecting, without application, one or two possible candidates from within the district to apply for this important role rather than analyzing what is needed and advertising broadly to match talent with objectives. 

This process of appointing without requiring application, which was achieved by a private session of only some school board members in 2013, has now been repeated by the board in public by a couple of the same people who were involved then. When public officials decide that the ends justify the means, they risk using a system that is not only undemocratic, but doesn’t always result in hiring someone as honest and competent as Steve Hopkins. 

It seems to me that we should remind ourselves that Wyoming is the “equality” state. Should we be anointing our public leaders? Shouldn’t we be outlining qualifications based on goals, publishing a job description, reviewing applications and conducting interviews? Anything less is not transparent or fair.

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