Partenheimer called back to North Harrison; Lanesville begins search for next superintendent
A former assistant principal was hired last week to be the next superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp.
Dr. Phil Partenheimer, who was assistant principal at North Harrison High School from 1992 to 2001, was unanimously approved by the five-member board Thursday night during a special meeting. His three-year contract, for $92,184 a year, begins July 1.
Partenheimer thanked the board for their faith in him.
‘I felt welcomed here the first day I came, … a part of the team,’ he said. ‘I truly want to come back.’
Prior to being named assistant principal at NHHS, Partenheimer was the guidance counselor and student council advisor for six years. He left North Harrison High School in 2001 to accept the superintendent’s position at Lanesville Community School Corp.
Lanesville school board of trustees accepted Partenheimer’s resignation Friday evening during a special meeting.
Donnie J. Hussung, Lanesville’s board president, said that ‘a lot of good things happened under (Partenheimer’s) tenure that involved a lot of good people.’
Two specific items were implementing a balanced school calendar and settling a teacher contract dispute.
Lanesville, which has a student population of about 615 in grades kindergarten through 12, has begun the search process for its next superintendent, only the fourth in the small school’s history. Partenheimer succeeded Dr. Mary Lou Nay, who was hired to fill the vacancy created by Carl Uesseler’s retirement in 1999.
Hussung said the Indiana State School Board Association will provide them with a facilitator who will review the candidate pool. Some retired superintendents have offered their services, too, Hussung said.
With the start of a new school year just a few weeks away, Hussung said he believes Lanesville will hire an interim superintendent to allow more time to make a final selection.
Buddy Bosler, school board president at North Harrison, said that board received assistance from the ISBA. The applicants they received were narrowed down to ‘a few,’ Bosler said, then those were interviewed by the board.
‘We kind of came to the conclusion as a board that Phil Partenheimer was best qualified for the job,’ said Bosler.
Before the board actually voted to hire Partenheimer, Bobby Chinn read a prepared statement that said the board makes many decisions, some of which leaves its mark on future generations.
‘However,’ he read, ‘the single largest decision we will make as a board is the filling of the vacancy of a superintendent with the best possible candidate that we can find … I have personally tried to keep a clear mind on those we were interested in and not make a decision based upon personal feelings but of accomplishments, credentials and educational achievements of our candidates.
‘I feel that Dr. Phil Partenheimer best meets those essential qualities of a good superintendent,’ he continued. ‘To our benefit, he already knows the local government actions and interworkings as well as the people. He knows several of us. He is now a superintendent. He wants to be your superintendent. He has a proven track record of accomplishment with student achievement. He wants to take North Harrison to the next level and beyond … ‘
School trustee Fred Naegele asked the faculty to support Partenheimer.
But Partenheimer’s reception by many of the teachers in attendance was not overwhelming.
Greg Rupp, a fourth-grade teacher and president of the North Harrison Classroom Teachers Association, had asked Bosler prior to the start of the meeting if he could read a statement. Bosler had told him the board had decided not to allow any public comment.
When the meeting was adjourned, Rupp stood and read his statement. Standing in silence with him were many, if not all, the teachers who had attended the meeting. Most were wearing their now-familiar yellow T-shirts that prolong they deserve a contract.
Rupp said the hiring of a new superintendent should ‘be an occasion to look ahead and be optimistic about the future. It is not.
‘We are a staff of low morale,’ he continued. ‘A staff that has been asked to do more with less. A staff that has been asked to educate the children of this community with excessive class sizes that are well above the state average.’
Rupp suggested that Partenheimer’s No. 1 task should be to help get the teacher contract settled.
The NHCTA has already asked the Indiana State Teachers Association to perform a crisis evaluation as the local teachers prepare to enter their fourth year without a new contract.
According to the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board, only four of the state’s 286 school corporations are without a teacher contract.
The crisis evaluation team will assess the situation and include a profile of the NHCTA, the bargaining team and the North Harrison school board. Its report will make specific recommendations regarding member support, political implications of the impasse, community support and activities for the NHCTA to do.
‘There’s no need for this to continue,’ Rupp said. ‘This has been really bad for everyone. We welcome the state team. The support of our colleagues throughout the state is a real shot in the arm.’
Partenheimer didn’t let the statements by Rupp or the silence by many of the NHCTA phase him.
He said the North Harrison Community School Corp. consists of ‘good people’ who support education. He intends to do what he can ‘to improve technology and student achievement’ in his new position.
Getting the teacher contract settled is among his top goals, too, he said.