Rob Cordes
Rob Cordes
September 17, 2013


Carroll Community School District superintendent Rob Cordes announced to the school board Monday night that he was "in conversation" with a new associate professor at Drake University in Des Moines regarding possible part-time employment as interim principal of Carroll High School as the district seeks to fill the administrative position left vacant with Steve Haluska's abrupt resignation two weeks into the new school year.

Cordes said the individual is this year's Iowa principal of the year and very "tech savvy." According to Cordes, he served as principal at two other schools but has not served as an interim principal. He would be available for two or three days a week starting as early as next Monday.

Though Cordes would not confirm the name of the individual under consideration, the School Administrators of Iowa 2012-2013 Secondary Principal of the Year is Trent Grundmeyer. Grundmeyer is also an assistant professor in educational leadership at Drake University.

Cordes plans to advertise the principalship beginning in late November or early December so the board can have a candidate selected by early to mid-February.

Board member LaVern Dirkx and board president Kim Tiefenthaler voiced concern that the candidate might be available only for two days in some weeks, and newly elected board member Jennifer Munson questioned whether even three days a week availability would be enough. However, Cordes voiced relief at the prospect of cutting back on the extra duties as soon as possible.

"I certainly would prefer five days," said Cordes. "It's not healthy working until 7:30, 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock every night, working on the weekends, and not recharging the batteries. I think it's doable, certainly not optimal."

Other courses of action available to the board would be to wait to hire an interim principal until it could find a full-time candidate, or it could leave the responsibilities on the shoulders of Cordes and assistant principal Tammie McKenzie, who have split the principal's duties since Haluska's resignation.

"I think Tammie will tell you she can handle the building. But that gets to be a lot. You may have all the evaluations scheduled, but if all heck breaks loose in the parking lot, that has to be dealt with. That's just the nature of the beast," said Cordes, adding that the high school administration is a two-person position for a reason.

Newly elected board member Duane Horsley asked McKenzie for her recommendation, stating that she was also "in the thick of it."

"I've talked a little bit to Rob about it, and I respect his decision. I have a lot of confidence in myself," she said. "I think it would be a privilege to have someone of this gentleman's caliber. I'm willing to accept what is chosen. I'll do whatever is asked of me."

Cordes and Tiefenthaler thanked McKenzie for "stepping up to the plate."

"She's the one that's there every day, day to day, and is really running the show," said Cordes. "She's dealt with student issues, staff issues."

However, Tiefenthaler said that this is a "critical part of the year" and the board needed to act to "get some relief out there."

Dirkx agreed, stating that the budget already accounted for a second person.

"We've cut back administration too much already," he said. "If we want to continue with success like we're on, we need positions filled."

Cordes and Tiefenthaler said that finding someone to fill the position full-time this early in the school year is unlikely as most of the qualified candidates already have jobs.

"It's not in the books," said Tiefenthaler. "No one would release him, and we don't want to do that."

Though taking no action, the board eventually voiced support for hiring the part-time administrator. Tiefenthaler suggested the board revisit the issue at its December meeting to evaluate the outcome and make a decision on the position for the spring semester. A special meeting will be held to hire the new administrator, possibly later this week.

According to Cordes, the candidate has "no desire" for the employment to become permanent. As a new professor, his duties include conducting professional research and publishing articles in addition to his classroom responsibilities and departmental meetings.

Tiefenthaler said that board members will individually review all of the applications received for the principal position and each select five or six candidates. The top candidates will be called in to complete the interview process that will include meeting with administrators, community members and high school teachers.

Cordes said that position will be open to anyone.