CLEARMONT — On the same night Sheridan County School District 3 Superintendent Charles Auzqui officially said goodbye, the district’s board of trustees officially agreed to contract with the Wyoming School Board Association to begin a national search to find his successor at a special meeting Wednesday.
Auzqui, who joined SCSD3 in 2006 as a principal and was later promoted to superintendent in 2013, agreed with Johnson County School District 1 on a two-year contract April 29 to become its next superintendent.
SCSD3 board members voted to accept Auzqui’s letter of resignation at Wednesday night’s meeting.
“It is with lots of emotions that I am writing this letter to formally notify you of my resignation from my positions as superintendent/K-12 principal for SCSD3 effective June 30, 2021,” Auzqui stated in the letter dated May 3. “I felt this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up and I know it will provide me experiences to grow professionally.
“I have no regrets about my 15 years as an educational leader in this district and it will always hold a special place in my heart,” he continued. “I cannot thank you enough for all of all the support, opportunities and experiences you have provided me during my time in SCSD3. Thanks for the memories.”
Several board members thanked Auzqui, who at times became emotional during Wednesday’s meeting, for his service and dedication to the district during his tenure with SCSD3, especially last year in leading it through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You made our schools run smoothly,” said board chair Amy Vineyard. “Thank you for everything you put into the board, students and staff.
“I’m super proud of you for applying for that job (with JCSD1) and seeking that professional growth,” she added. “From the chair of the board, I’m super proud of you. I know you’ll do a great job.”
Trustee Chris Schock said Auzqui helped him be a better board member.
“You did a tremendous job,” Schock said.
After accepting Auzqui’s resignation, board members quickly turned their attention to the task of finding his replacement, unanimously agreeing to a $6,500 contract with WSBA representative Brian Farmer to help the district conduct a national search. They also later decided to appoint an interim superintendent to assist with day-to-day operations until the vacancy is filled.
“As a board, we’re going to need help,” Vineyard said. “It’s a long process. These people know where we need to go.”
Before voting on the contract, however, Trustee Trinity Lewis questioned Farmer on why such a service wasn’t already included in the district’s membership with the WSBA.
“I just want to be prudent with money spent,” she said.
Farmer said the fee is “cost-based” and allows the WSBA to recoup some of the expenses involved in a search, such as for advertising and staff costs.
“We’re looking at it as more of a service than a moneymaker,” he said. “Sometimes we lose money.
“What we have is a design to help make you successful.”
Farmer added he would provide the board “a 100%” guarantee and that the district would not be charged if not satisfied.
“You should have said that to begin with,” said Trustee Wade Betz. “We would have been done right there.”
According to Farmer, SCSD3 has several options in how it might carry out a candidate search. Though, he recommended the board not immediately rush to fill the position.
“It’s not recommended to do this this late in the year,” Farmer said. “Most (administrators) are under contract or about to sign contracts.
“Your pool at this point is really a small pool,” he added. “It becomes harder to find that right fit for your district.”
Farmer suggested advertising for the vacancy should start around October and to keep the application period open through early January, adding that’s when most potential candidates are looking for new opportunities.
“Then, you’ll get the pick of the litter,” he said. “You’re right there at the prime time to hire someone.”
Once the application period is closed, Farmer said the school board could conduct interviews in late January or early February and select a winning candidate shortly afterward.
Another option would be to not advertise and have WSBA officials select candidates from previous searches and encourage them to apply for the vacancy, which would possibly allow the SCSD3 board to make a decision possibly even before the start of the 2021-22 school year.
“My recommendation is you do it right,” he said, encouraging the board to choose to start its search later this fall. “That’s going to be ideal. But, we’ll help you in whatever you decide what your process is.”
Vineyard said, in advertising the vacancy, SCSD3 would be seeking a person to again fill the dual role of both superintendent and principal.