The vote that will decide Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt’s future with the Flagler County School District has been pushed up again.
The School Board had scheduled a discussion of Mittelstadt’s contract at an agenda workshop on Tuesday, April 4, with a vote set at its regular board meeting on April 18.
But at the March 28 information workshop, board member Will Furry asked for and received a consensus from his fellow board members to schedule a special meeting following the April 4 discussion to have an immediate vote.
Furry based his request on media reports relating to the superintendent’s contract, which expires on June 30.
“In light of a lot of things going on in the media surrounding Superintendent Mittelstadt’s contract, I’d like to get a consensus today to have a special meeting on the fourth to have the vote on the fourth. By then we should be ready to make that decision,” Furry said.
Furry said it was also fair to let the superintendent know what the board members' intentions are.
“To wait another two weeks, I don’t think is necessary,” he said.
Board member Christy Chong agreed to move up the vote, while Sally Hunt, who noted that she has been trying to move up the discussions since a Feb. 7 School Board retreat, said, “To be honest, I’m really good either way.”
But Hunt’s support was the third board member's consent Furry needed to schedule the special meeting. The board could decide to renew Mittelstadt’s three-year contract, push the decision down the road by extending her current contract or decide to hire a new superintendent.
Hunt recently told the Observer that she has concerns about Mittelstadt’s leadership. Furry said he won’t need more time than one more week to make his decision.
Board Vice Chair Colleen Conklin asked Furry that with the special meeting immediately following the board's discussion about Mittelstadt’s contract, when would community members have a chance to weigh in with their opinions.
“I think it’s been weighed in quite a bit,” Furry said. “It’s very clear. The community has been vocal. We’re going to have it noticed. It won’t be behind the scenes. It will be open and transparent.”
Furry said community members will be able to voice their views during public comment at the special meeting.
Hunt said her only reservation was that April 4 is already jam-packed with School Board meetings. She also said that Furry saying he’ll be ready to make a decision by April 4 implies that he has already made that decision.
“Ms. Hunt,” Furry said, “I don’t need anybody to correct my words. I said I will be ready to make that decision on the fourth. If there are others of you that can make that same statement, then I don’t think it’s necessary to extend the inevitable beyond that day.”
Mittelstadt is scheduled to have one-on-one meetings with each School Board member before April 4, and the board members are scheduled to hand in their evaluations of the superintendent to Board Attorney Kristy Gavin prior to the meeting.
While Mittelstadt’s contract was not on the agenda for either the workshop or the board meeting on March 28, it seemed to be the elephant in the room throughout the combined eight and half hours of the two meetings.
• During public comment at the workshop, Greg Blose´, the president and CEO of the Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement of no-confidence in Mittlestadt’s ability to lead the district from the chamber’s board of directors.
• Hunt asked at the afternoon workshop to suspend the rules of the evening’s board meeting to add an agenda item requesting that she be removed as the board liaison for Wadsworth Elementary School. Wadsworth Principal Paul Peacock had set up a meeting with Hunt and former Flagler Palm Coast High School Principal Dusty Sims in February in which Hunt asked Sims if he would be interested in serving as Flagler’s superintendent should the position be open.
Sims, the Department of Education’s lead state executive director for school improvement, told the Observer that he replied “the position is not open so the conversation can go no further.”
The board approved Hunt’s request and Board Chair Cheryl Massaro volunteered to take over as Wadsworth’s liaison.
• Peacock’s appeal of Mittelstadt’s denial of his grievance was heard by the board, which ultimately agreed with the superintendent that he had been paid in full for his role as a chief negotiator.
• Mittelstadt’s approval of a district review committee’s decision to retain the challenged book, “Sold,” in the two high schools was also appealed to the board. In a split vote, the board sided with Mittelstadt and the district.