After three hours of deliberation and three motions, the Brookings-Harbor School Board Monday voted 3-2 to extend the superintendents current contract for one year.
The board could have extended Paul Prevenass contract up to three years or not renewed it at all.
Board Chairman Brian Larsson and board members Larry Anderson and Jeanne Sever approved the one-year extension while board members Bill Ferry and Mary Anderson voted no.
This is something that I can agree with, Larsson said before calling the vote.
Larsson said it was important that Prevenass contract was extended long enough to ensure he was around through the completion of the districts $14 million construction project.
Its important to keep the continuity of our building program, Larsson said.
The decision will extend Prevenass current contract, set to expire June 30, 2003, to June 30, 2004.
Prevenas declined to comment about the boards decision, saying only that I wasnt present during the boards discussion and dont feel comfortable at this point saying anything.
Mondays school board meeting was the fourth executive session during which board members endeavored to evaluate Prevenass job performance and decide whether to renew or extend his contract. (See related story about the job performance, Page 2A).
While executive sessions are closed to the public, The Pilot has attended each meeting, but is prohibited by law from reporting details of the meetings. Prevenas has been present at various times throughout the meetings.
Prevenas was present at the beginning of Mondays executive session, but was asked to leave while the board finalized his evaluation and discussed his contract status.
Prevenas was brought back into the meeting nearly three hours later after the board, in open session, had made and rejected several motions and finally arrived at a decision.
The first motion, made by Larry Anderson and seconded by Ferry, was not to extend Prevenas contract and let it expire June 30, 2002.
Mary Anderson was quick to say, I dont agree with that.
Sever said, My vote would be no.
Larry Anderson, before explaining himself, said he disliked the boards current format for evaluating the superintendent. Its a poor instrument.
Still, he continued, The superintendent has not kept the board informed as to what the policy book says. Thats his responsibility. That why, as some people say, he gets paid the big bucks.
Anderson also said there were too many citizen complaints and violations of state law against Prevenas.
He was referring to three lawsuits pending against the district and numerous complaints lodged against Prevenas, most of which were made by parents of special education students.
As for violating state laws, Anderson pointed to the districts failure to renew contracts with various administrative employees by required dates, failure to abide by opening meetings laws as related to the school bond review and oversight committee, and Prevenass past election violation.
There are too many blemishes, he told the board. You people want to disregard the complaints and violations of state law. I dont understand how you can overlook these things.
This superintendent has not kept the district out of trouble.
Ferry said he seconded the motion not to renew Prevenass contract because of the trouble he has had in obtaining what he felt was public information from the superintendent.
I have repeatedly asked for information, information that any Joe off the street is entitled to, but I cant get it, Ferry said.
Do I go to the state district attorney to get the information? Is this where I have to go? Ive been stonewalled by our own superintendent since December.
Sever, upset at Ferrys comments, said I think Bill has come on the board to...
But she was cut off by Ferry when he asked for order.
What Sever had intended to say was that Ferry had become a board member to get rid of Paul.
She added, Paul has not been treated fairly by some members of this board. I dont know why it should be this way.
Sever, the only person who was a school board member six years ago when Prevenas was hired, cautioned the board about the difficulties in finding a quality superintendent.
If you only knew the other superintendents weve had, youd think differently about Paul, she said.
Larry Anderson restated his motion not to renew Prevenass contract. Larsson, however, said the districts current policy says the board should give the superintendent a chance to remedy areas that need improvement before doing so.
But Ferry pointed out that advice recently obtained by Larsson from the districts attorney stated the board is not required to give the superintendent reasons for not extending his contract.
It seems that district policy conflicts with our legal advice, Larsson said.
Larry Anderson said, It seems to be, but we have a week-old legal brief saying we dont have to give any reasons.
At that point, Larsson called the board back into executive session to discuss what to do. This is an important issue to me because it deals with policy and how we apply it.
After a short discussion, the board moved back into open session. Larry restated the motion not to renew Prevenass contract and Larsson called for the vote.
The motion failed 2-3 with Larsson, Sever and Mary Anderson voting no.
Mary Anderson then made a motion to extend Prevenas contract for two years, taking it out to June 30, 2005. Sever seconded the motion.
Larry Anderson declined to discuss the motion.
Ferry wanted to amend the motion, saying if any board member was recalled within the next six months, the two-year extension would revert back to the current one. Larry Anderson seconded the amendment.
The reason, Ferry said, is so that a newly configured board would not be stuck with a contract approved by a previous board.
But Mary Anderson, who may be facing a possible recall, didnt think it was fair to tie a board member to the superintendents contract.
Sever asked, What does a recall have to do with the superintendents contract?
Ferry explained, What if I turn things around. Lets say three people dont wish to extend the contract, then one of those three is recalled and the board dynamics change and is stuck with a decision.
Larsson asked for a vote on the motion, which failed 2-3, with Larry Anderson and Ferry voting in favor of it.
The board then voted on the original motion to extend Prevenass contract for two years.
That failed 2-3, with Ferry, Larsson and Larry Anderson voting no.
Larry Anderson then made the third and final motion to extend Prevenas contract for one year.