Capital school board postpones appointing interim superintendent, forms subcommittee for search

DOVER — The Capital school board voted to postpone appointing an interim superintendent until its July meeting, meaning the district’s highest position will technically be vacant following the end of Superintendent Dan Shelton’s tenure June 30.

Meanwhile, the board will create a subcommittee to determine next steps for filling the position.

“We found out the news pretty quickly. There are some things that the board wants to be able to do, things we feel the board is compelled to do, before we move ahead,” said school board president John Martin during Wednesday’s school board meeting.

The school board voted 4-1, with board member Sean Christiansen as the dissenting vote, to postpone appointing an interim superintendent after entering executive session to discuss next steps. The decision comes following the formal resignation of Dr. Shelton also at Wednesday’s meeting.

Leaving the position open technically, however, created some uncertainty.

“So the board will operate the beginning of the year without a superintendent?” Dr. Shelton asked.

Board member Dr. Anthony DePrima said that he made the motion of postponing the vote with the understanding that the assistant superintendent — Sylvia Henderson — would fill the role until the board taps someone.

Dr. Shelton noted he didn’t know what the statutes said about a district being without a superintendent and would have to reach out to counsel.

“Should it turn out that the board is acting in error, then the board will certainly take corrective action at the next meeting,” Mr. Martin said.

As the board moves forward in finding someone to fill the role long-term, the board worked out the beginning of its plans during a discussion in executive session.

“We met and we deliberated and we began to just formulate a skeleton of a plan,” Mr. Martin said.

The board voted unanimously to appoint a subcommittee — consisting of Mr. Martin, board member Chanda Jackson-Short and administrative staff — to determine how the district hired Dr. Shelton, consider outside entities to conduct the search and then bring that information back to the board for potential action.

As the process of hiring a new superintendent is in its preliminary stages, the board did not specify what the fiscal impact of a search could be. During the discussion of the preliminary budget for fiscal year 2021, however, Dr. DePrima asked the board to consider building in funding — about $15,000 — for the search.

“I asked our finance director about what did that cost last time, he was able to identify about $17,000 in expenses but wasn’t sure that was everything,” he said. “I would like to just make sure that the board has budgeted extra money for a superintendent search.”

Dr. Shelton announced he would be leaving the district earlier this month after receiving and accepting an offer for the same position in Christina School District. His last day with Capital will be June 30.

“I was a leader here in Capital and there’s important things that come with being the leader, but the work that we’re doing in Capital wasn’t my work,” he said in an interview earlier this month. “All of the staff in the Capital School District is just phenomenal. And so while [I’m] leaving, there will obviously be some changes, it wasn’t my work, it was their work. They’re an amazing team, and it will continue.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, the school board members each took their time to thank Dr. Shelton for his five years in the district.

“I do wish you well. I think this is a great opportunity for you,” said Dr. DePrima. “I think they need you badly, and maybe even worse than we need you. And so I do wish you well and good luck up there; I’m sure you’re going to do great things north of the canal.”

Mr. Christiansen recalled when they first interviewed Dr. Shelton for the position, noting that he “didn’t sit down in his interview. He bounced from one side of the room to the other.”

“Our district has not stood still since he came on board,” he said.