Interim director Dunn provides governing council bright spot

During a Wednesday (March 1) governing council meeting that sometimes cracked with resentment, everyone seemed to be in agreement about Tammy Dunn, Moreno Valley High School’s new interim director.

“We have an awesome interim director who has brought some serious calm to the school,” Carl Nelson, president of the Moreno Valley Education Foundation, said. “It’s the first time I’ve [seen] a director who wants to be fiscally responsible.” 

Stan Harrell, a member of the search committee tasked with helping the council in hiring a new director, also noted, “I think we’re very lucky to have [Dunn] as an interim director.”

Parent Logan Orndorff added, “I want to thank Tammy Dunn so much for stepping up to help us out. Thank you so much!”

That praise – and praise from others – prompted Dunn to remark she was embarrassed by it, though she thanked everyone and later added, “I want us to begin to feel like a community again.”

Dunn stepped into the role Feb. 15 following the Feb. 6 resignation of Dan Salzwedel, who stepped in as interim director Jan. 1. The last full-time director, Greg Vincent, left at the at the end of the fall 2016 semester.

Salzwedal still has a $4,000 contract with Moreno Valley High School to help find a new director. Nelson told council the foundation had unanimously denied a request to pay for Salzwedel’s contract, noting, “We do not fund contracts that are already in progress.” 

Nelson added such funding after the fact had previously resulted in audit findings for the foundation.

Governing Council President Tammy DeVine said she thought Nelson had assured her “the foundation would help out. So you misspoke for the board?”

Nelson replied he didn’t remember then went on to question when Salzwedel had been hired. “In the minutes that you had given me, there was no mention of Dan Salzwedel’s contract being approved.

DeVine said the contract was in the two places in the minutes and added, “You might not like the job he’s doing but he’s done it correctly.”

Logan Orndorff said, “If the last interim director misrepresented his licensure and then resigned in disgrace… I don’t think this person should be allowed to… have a say in the hiring of the next director.”

Governing council member Rogers Lanon replied, “We are in negotiations to get some of the money back.” while deVine repeated, “He did what he was supposed to. He got us into compliance. It’s what we are dealt and we have to move forward.”

Dunn told the audience, “If you find someone who is fantastic with kids, you want them in the classroom. It’s not unusual to have someone in the classroom who has knowledge in their field.”

According to his resumé, Salzwedel has experience as an adjunct professor, teacher, coach and superintendent. However, the state Department of Education’s alternative licensure for administrators requires an advanced degree – either a master’s or doctoral – a minimum of six or more full school years of administrative experience and an administrative internship for one full school year.

Council holds off on filling empty seat

Area resident Ed McCracken, who had submitted his resume in hopes of filling one of two vacated governing council seats, said, “I am not an educator, I don’t have kids in school, but I think the school is the best thing to happen to Angel Fire in the last 15 years. Our community, Angel Fire, can’t support a high school: We have to have a magnet school. I think our mountain living, mountain sports can also be a magnet. We provide world class education here.”

According to Wikipedia, McCracken “earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University in 1966 and an MBA from Stanford University. [He] was CEO of Silicon Graphics (SGI) from 1984 to 1997 [and] under his leadership, SGI grew from annual revenues of $5.4 million to $3.7 billion.”

Wikipedia also notes McCracken was “a ‘White House regular’ during the Clinton administration and appeared with Bill Clinton and Al Gore to promote the benefits of technology.”

Citing their desire to wait until the initial hiring process for a new director was complete, council instead asked McCracken if he would be willing to serve on the search committee. He consented. Nevertheless, several in the audience expressed dismay – or outright anger – that council did not appoint McCracken.

DeVine told The Chronicle the decision was based in part of the enormous amount of paperwork that is required by the the state every time the school adds a director or governing council member, or loses a director or governing council member.

Although school bylaws call for up to seven governing council members, only five have to be filled and the council has up to 30 days to replace one of those positions.

The search for a new director continues

Nelson, along with several parents and members of the community, urged the governing council to take their time before hiring a new director.

Nancy Brannin, who with husband Ain Whistler, left the Moreno Valley in the ’80s in pursuit of a better education for their children, recalled listening to the radio and hearing about Angel Fire making a list of top 10 schools. “It is just so exciting that we have that level of school here. I would like to encourage that your director be in line with the philosophy of the school.”

Moreno Valley High School was founded as as a “Paideia” school, which, according to its charter, “embodies three approaches to teaching: Socratic seminar, academic coaching and didactic instruction. MVHS supports innovation, critical thinking and active student participation…. Students must analyze and solve complex problems, communicate clearly, synthesize information, apply knowledge, and generalize learning to other settings.”

Prior to the meeting council members met with the search committee to discuss the hiring process and go over the timeline. All will participate interviewing – and rating – applicants. If, after the interview process, a new director is found, a meeting is set for 5:15 p.m., Wednesday (March 22) at the school.