Kirsten Mustain

Grove Sun

Grove School Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Lower Elementary Principal Sandy Harper as the new superintendent of schools at a regular meeting Tuesday night.

Harper, who noted that Tuesday night was the three-year anniversary of her employment as principal, said she was very happy to be chosen for the position.

“I am honored by the board’s confidence in me,” Harper said.

“Out of all the applicants we interviewed, Ms. Harper was high above the rest,” said board member Kenny Wright. “Her motivation, her excitement and her knowledge of Grove schools were by far the best we saw. Her vision of what our school system can be is the same as this board’s and the community’s.”

Over 40 people applied for the position and seven of those applicants were interviewed. Of the seven, two were called in for second interviews.

Harper will replace current superintendent Tom Steen, who entered into a resignation agreement with the school after his employment contract was not renewed for the 2010-2011 school year.

Steen had taken measures to bring a lawsuit against the Grove School System after the board voted four to one on January 12 not to renew his employment contract.

On April 13, the board rescinded its non-renewal vote and Steen tendered his resignation with the contingent that he would receive a settlement of $98,000, which the school will pay in two payments of $49,000 each.

In other business, the board voted not to renew the contracts of six support staff members who have been employed with the school system for less than a year.

Steen said the move was a “money saving opportunity” and that the school would not have to provide cause for terminating employees who had been employed for less than a year.

The Grove School system employs a total of 137 support staff members and 178 teachers.

Twenty-one first year teachers received notice recently that their contracts may not be renewed for the 2010-2011 school year. The board will not know whether or not they are able to renew the contracts until June 30 when they discover how much money the school will receive from the state.

The board also accepted a bid from Environmental Action for the removal of asbestos from the Upper and Lower Elementary schools.

In addition, a bid was accepted for the demolition of the old WPA building.