C4 board selects 5 director candidates for interviews

Friday, December 8, 2017

Finding the right director is a crucial step for the newly formed Connect 4 (C4) program, and the board of directors will begin the interview process next week.

The program will offer junior and senior students from the Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest schools districts the opportunity to pursue a technical education during the school day. The program will be housed in the Carroll County Career Center, formerly the Berryville Readiness Center, and will focus on industrial maintenance, providing students with a cross-curricular background in different trades.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Connect 4 Board reviewed applications for the director position. Berryville Superintendent Owen Powell said nine applications were received, with a few other potential candidates applying after the November deadline.

Powell recommended the board narrow down the pool of candidates to the four strongest applicants and schedule interviews for the following week.

The board voted to schedule interviews for the C4 director position at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, at the Berryville School District.

After reviewing the applicants, the board members selected who they considered to be the five strongest contenders for the interview process. Powell said he would schedule the interview times with each applicant.

“Hiring a director is probably the most important thing this board will do,” said board member Al Larson.

Powell agreed, saying the success of the C4 program hinges on finding the right fit for the position.

Board president Rodney Ellis said the director would need to not only be qualified for the position but also have the right personality and enthusiasm for the program.

“It’s a multifaceted position,” he said. “The director will be the face of the C4 program. They’ve gotta sell it to the kids.”

Board member Bud Phillips asked what the board will do if none of the applicants interviewed seem suitable for the position.

“Can we go back if we don’t find anyone satisfactory out of those five?” he asked.

“If they’re not what we think is a good fit, then we can revisit the other applicants,” Powell said.

The board had previously approved the job description and salary guidelines for the C4 director at its first meeting in September. The board had voted to set the C4 director’s salary at an average of the three school districts’ principal salaries.

Green Forest Superintendent Matt Summers said each school district is prepared for about $100,000 in salaries, with the C4 director making approximately $75,000 and the C4 secretary, who will be hired in the spring, making approximately $25,000. The districts will split the cost three ways, he said.

“The director position would be a 240-day contract. In essence, it’s a year-round position,” he said. “For the secretary, we discussed a 190-day contract. Students attend for 178 days, so the secretary would work a week before and a week after that period or two weeks before.”

The goal, Summers said, is to have a director hired before January. The secretary will not be hired until spring of 2018, he said, and the board plans to have the director heavily involved in that hiring process.

Also at the meeting, Ellis told the board he has requested $100,000 in state funding for C4 through a Career and Technical Education (CTE) grant.

“It doesn’t sound like much,” he said, “but it could help with overrun costs. Billy Reed at the Ozarks Unlimited Resource Educational Service Cooperative (O.U.R.) helped submit that. The co-op is a really great resource to have.”

Ellis said the board should hopefully know the status of the grant by early spring.

Summers said he is still looking into the possibility of a grant from the Walmart Family Foundation. He said he, Ellis, Powell and Eureka Springs Superintendent Bryan Pruitt will meet with representatives from the foundation in January in Bentonville to discuss grant opportunities.

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