Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 20, 2018

Benge appointed curriculum director

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jun 20, 2018
Chuck Benge

Fairfield Community School District curriculum director Marci Dunlap has accepted a position with the Ottumwa School District and will step down at the end of this month.

Pence Elementary School principal Chuck Benge will replace Dunlap as curriculum director. That decision was made by a vote of the Fairfield Community School Board at its meeting Monday night.

The vote was 5-1 to confirm Benge as curriculum director, with board members Kelly Scott, Jennifer Anderson, Debi Plum, Frank Broz and Christi Welsh voting in favor, and board member Paul Miller voting against. Board president Warren Schaefer was absent.

Benge’s salary will be $106,085.

Superintendent Laurie Noll stressed that the district had only a short window in which to train the new curriculum director, and Benge already possessed plenty of experience and the requisite administrative license. She said appointing Benge now would make for a quick, smooth transition from one curriculum director to the next.

Miller did not object to Benge specifically, but rather to the district not conducting interviews of applicants before deciding on Benge.

“I’d rank the curriculum director as almost an assistant superintendent,” Miller said. “It’s not fair that we don’t open this up to other candidates. I really thought there would be an interview for this. Chuck might be the best person, but maybe someone else is out there. This is not fair to teachers and parents, and it’s not transparent.”

Broz expressed a desire to open the position for interviews, too.

“It gives legitimacy to the person who ends up in that job,” Broz said.

Plum agreed with Miller’s sentiment that a curriculum director is like an assistant superintendent, and the board does not merely appoint a superintendent.

Scott wanted to ensure that other candidates in the district had a shot at the position.

Noll said the job opening was posted internally, and that there was one other applicant who did not have an administrative license nor the amount of experience Benge has.

Members of the board were worried about what would happen if the curriculum director’s position went unfilled for several weeks, and about the quality of applicants who wished to fill it.

Scott said he had been on hiring committees before, and that when the middle of the summer roles around, the only applicants left are those no other district wanted.

Miller was not convinced that going without a curriculum director for a short time would be a problem.

“What can’t be done in the next two weeks with our current staff that requires filling the position today?” he asked. “I want to make sure the best candidate for the job gets it. And it might be Chuck. I’d prefer we’d do it externally as well.”

After the board voted to appoint Benge curriculum director, Miller said, “This board sometimes … we got to think long term,” and walked out of the meeting.

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