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PRAIRIE GROVE -- The Prairie Grove School Board unanimously voted to move Superintendent Allen Williams into the position of assistant superintendent of finance and named middle school Principal Reba Holmes as interim superintendent for the next school year, according to board President Shawn Shrum.

The changes, considered in a special meeting Thursday night, took effect immediately.

Shrum said Williams' pay and benefits will remain the same. Williams' salary was $135,031 for 2017-18.

The board approved a $20,000 stipend for Holmes to compensate her for the superintendent's position. Shrum said Holmes also will continue to serve as middle school principal. Holmes' pay as principal was $85,131 for 2017-18.

Shrum declined to comment on why Williams was moved to a lower position in the administration office, citing the change as a personnel issue.

"The board felt it was in the best interest of the school district to make this move," Shrum said.

The School Board has held four executive sessions since its regular meeting June 18 at Prairie Grove High School. Shrum said the sessions have dealt with several personnel issues, but the main one was the superintendent's position. The board has spent more than six hours in executive session during the past two weeks.

On June 18, the board went into executive session during its regular meeting for more than three hours, but did not take any action when it convened in public session.

Shrum called three special meetings last week, and the board went into executive session each time. No action was taken June 23 or June 24. Williams was out of town on vacation and did not attend any of those sessions.

On June 26, the board went into executive session for about an hour with Williams in attendance, Shrum said.

The board reconvened in public session and the motions were made to move Williams to assistant superintendent and name Holmes as interim superintendent. By that time, Shrum said, Holmes had shown up and board members talked to her about the position and answered questions she had.

Shrum said the board did not plan to start the search for a new superintendent until 2019.

"It's not a good time of year to start a search," he said. "We'll probably start January or February of next year."

Prairie Grove will have three assistant superintendents. Williams as assistant superintendent of finance, Pete Joenks as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction and David Kellogg as assistant superintendent of support services, maintenance, transportation and facilities.

Williams said Friday he preferred any comments about the changes come from board members.

"I think I'm going to hold off from making a lot of comments other than to say I'm going to do everything I can to help Reba and to make sure the district is moving forward," he said.

He said he received a phone call about the board's actions later Thursday evening and had not seen anything in writing yet.

"I'm not one to make a lot of rash decisions. I'll do everything I can for the district while I'm here," he said.

Williams was named school superintendent in June 2010 and was one day short of finishing up his eighth year in the position. Williams was assistant superintendent for Springdale School District prior to Prairie Grove.

In January, Williams' three-year contract was extended another year through June 2021. Last year in March 2017, the board approved a new three-year contract for Williams that gave him a 3.7-percent raise and five additional vacation days.

Joenks is new to the district, coming from his position as principal of Springdale High School. His contract started July 1. Kellogg has been with Prairie Grove since July 1, 2015.

Holmes sent out a district-wide email at 8:30 a.m. Friday to inform all employees about the board's decisions the night before. She also handed out a written statement that said she did not know the circumstances for the changes nor did she believe it was her job to "dig" into them.

"My job will be to continue to pursue the vision and mission of our great district, providing leadership to our teachers and staff, maintaining an environment of education excellence for our students and families and to support our community with a school district they are proud to call their own," Holmes stated.

Holmes stated that she would work collaboratively with the School Board and administrative team "to keep our district moving in the right direction."

She said she was contacted a couple of days before Thursday's meeting to see if she would be interested in serving as interim superintendent. She said she was willing to accept the position.

"I love Prairie Grove schools," Holmes said, adding students come first. "That's what our job is."

Holmes has been with Prairie Grove for 25 years, including two years as assistant principle at the intermediate school and 10 years as middle school principal.

She expected she would be dividing her time next year between her office at the middle school and the superintendent's office at the administrative building.

General News on 07/04/2018

Print Headline: Prairie Grove School Board Names Interim Superintendent

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