by Ivan Foley
One week away from the school board’s target date for hiring the district’s next superintendent, there remains speculation the top choice is already in the Platte County R-3 District.
Dr. Mike Reik, age 36, a current assistant superintendent for the school district, is known to be on the short list of candidates for the job.
The Landmark first exclusively reported nearly 18 months ago that sources in education circles were saying the replacement for Dr. Mark Harpst when he retires in July of 2009 will be Reik. Some school board members publicly and privately denied the report, and later approved a search process they said would be “nationwide.”
Bob Shaw, school board president, has gone out of his way to maintain a tight-lipped process in the hiring of Harpst’s replacement. As recently as last week, Shaw was still saying that all 18 applicants remained candidates for the job. But the school board’s secretary, Tina Zubeck, recently revealed to The Landmark that five applicants had been brought in for interviews.
Last Thursday night in a closed session held at 8:30 p.m. at the new District Education Center, Reik was called into an executive session for an interview. The executive session was called for the purposes of discussing personnel and also for an exception known to cite “applicants for employment.”
At around 9:15 p.m., after Reik had engaged in casual conversation with two representatives of The Landmark for 45 minutes in the lobby outside a conference room, Shaw opened the door to the conference room and asked Reik to enter.
The meeting adjourned in the neighborhood of 11 p.m. that evening.
“It was a long night,” Reik said this week.
The Landmark asked Reik on Tuesday if he is he ready to make an announcement.
“Am I ready to make an announcement? I was ready a long time ago,” he joked, then added he has “no inclination” of what will happen next.
There were no other candidates for the job present in the building that night.
On Tuesday night of this week, the board then held another executive session with the same purpose of personnel/applicants for employment cited as reasons for the closed session. No candidates were called into the closed session on Tuesday night.
The only non-school board member who was invited into Tuesday night’s executive session was Kevin Robinson, owner of People Wise of Missouri, a human resources firm based in Platte City. Shaw confirmed Robinson’s firm is playing a role in the superintendent search. Robinson had not returned a Landmark call by deadline.
Asked early this week if the board is still on target for a Dec. 18 announcement of a hiring, board president Shaw responded: “Well, we hope so, but that’s only 10 days away. It’s possible.”
On Wednesday morning the board announced it will hold another special meeting Thursday night at 9 p.m.
Reik has worked in the district for eight years. He has been an assistant superintendent for three years, currently in charge of support services. His duties cover the areas of employee benefits, technology, transportation, school safety, buildings and grounds, purchasing, ADA coordinator, food service, facilities planning, building projects and construction, health services staff, and day-to-day operations. Some of those duties, Reik told The Landmark, he shares with Dr. Harpst.
“There is some overlapping,” he said, between duties of the superintendent and of the two assistant superintendents.
Reik has an annual salary of $108,325 in his role as assistant superintendent. Harpst earns $165,000 as superintendent.
Reik and his wife, Ashley, reside near Platte City. They are expecting their first child any day now, he said.
He said as the baby arrives hopefully “I’ll be watching my future arrive,” at the same time.
AT TUESDAY’S MEETING
A security officer was present for Tuesday night’s executive session meeting of the board for the first time.
Brian Dolan, who said he works full time for R-3 in the areas of video, locks and other secruity issues, told The Landmark he had been asked to provide security at the meeting. Dolan said he had been told his presence was desired because at the previous meeting there had been a “commotion.”
Asked if he could expand on what “commotion” had taken place, Dolan said: “I’m really not sure. It didn’t sound like much.”
The last meeting featured only an “audience” of two Landmark representatives and Reik.
Also for the first time Tuesday night, portable stanchions known as Tensabarriers, were placed about 10 feet on either side of the door to the conference room where the board held its executive session.
A previously clear narrow window had been darkened as well, a change from the previous meeting.
Shaw said the security guard and other measures are designed to “keep deliberations confidential.”
Shaw then accused The Landmark of trying to “eavesdrop” on last Thursday’s closed session. (For The Landmark’s response to the accusation, see the Between the Lines column here).
Shaw said the decision to bring in the security was his. He said he did not know how much the presence of the guard was costing the district. Asked if he consulted other board members before making the decision, Shaw replied: “I’m not going to answer that question.”