In a surprise move Tuesday, Broken Bow School Superintendent Mark Sievering resigned his position effective on June 30 of 2015.
The move comes on the heals of a contentious meeting Monday during which board members argued over the process and schedule for evaluating the superintendent’s job performance and changes in his job description.
Though nothing was said to indicate any dissatisfaction with the superintendent’s performance, at one point in the discussion Mr. Sievering asked that the board move into executive session because he believed some of the discussion had the potential of causing undue harm or embarrassment to his reputation.
The board voted unanimously to go into executive session. While the audience and staff members were leaving the room, the Custer County Chief asked whether specific discussions of an evaluation form and procedures, not the actually evaluation itself, was sufficient grounds for meeting in secret and whether the public deserved to be privy to discussion about how the board intended to set goals and evaluate the highest paid public servant in the county.
Pending advice of the school district attorney, the board voted to come out of executive session to avoid any potential issues concerning the state’s open meetings laws.
Back in open session, Sievering expressed frustrations over the delays in establishing clearly defined and firm expectations for the role of superintendent.
“We have discussed this for two years,” he said. He told the board he has tied his personal goals to the previous directives and strategic plans and has devoted considerable work time adapting to previous evaluation directives and guidance from board. Changes in evaluation plans and job directives have been repeatedly discussed by the board, he said, but there have been repeated delays in finalization.
“I am concerned if there is any significant reason to delay this further,” he said.
Before adjourning the regular meeting the board agreed to put the continued discussion of evaluation procedure and job superintendent’s job description on the topic list for its work session in July and to have it listed on the agenda for final approval in August.
Then the board moved into its scheduled work session, which is open to the public but at which no actions or non-agenda items are discussed.
Sievering told the Chief following his resignation Tuesday morning that no further discussion about the superintendent’s job occurred during Monday’s work session.
He added he had reached a point where he thought his resignation would be the best because he no longer felt a good philosophical fit. But he refused to be critical of the board. He has been in the Broken Bow position since 2012 when he came from Conestoga Public Schools in southeast Nebraska. He had been superintendent there for the previous 9 years.
His initial contract was for $125,000 and the contract he signed for the 2014-2015 school year is for $127,750.
Board President Ken Myers said the superintendent’s resignation came as a shock to board members Tuesday. He said the situation will naturally be a discussion item on the board agenda for coming months.
Myers said he knew there was tension at Monday’s board meeting surrounding the discussion of the superintendent’s evaluation, but that he was surprised that the board’s discussion might have prompted the resignation the next day.
“I love this community and my two years here have been the best in my educational career,” said Sievering. He had strong words of praise for the quality of the teachers, staff and administrators at Broken Bow and described the team as among the best in Nebraska.
He said he doesn’t envision any realistic situation where the board would convince him to withdraw his resignation.