EVERETT - Board members at Everett Area School District, faced with a mid-year leadership switch after Superintendent Dixie Paruch's sudden resignation last week, are advertising for her replacement as a three-month time limit ticks away.
The board has fewer than 90 days to select a successor - whether interim or permanent - after Paruch cut short her two-year tenure amid a school board dispute.
"I don't know that we really have a plan at this point. We're kind of in shock," board member Gary Sams said a week after Paruch accepted the superintendent job at nearby Central Fulton School District. She will be leaving in mid-February for the new position.
The board has posted job advertisements, board president Corey Reffner said; the listing already appears on education websites, under the heading "Work Type: Full Time."
"Last time we had an opening, we had responses from all over the place ... from all over the state," Reffner said.
That was two summers ago, when Paruch was chosen from nearly 20 candidates for a three-year contract starting at $101,000. She moved to Everett from Fannett-Metal School District in Franklin County.
"When I was hired just over two years ago, I thought at that time that I would retire from Everett Area School District," Paruch, 52, said in an emotional parting speech after the board accepted her resignation. "But obviously that wasn't meant to happen."
Board members and spectators blamed board disputes and conflicting personalities, though the immediate cause of Paruch's resignation remains murky.
Her $115,000 starting salary at Central Fulton is 14 percent higher than the opening salary at Everett.
Still, Sams said, it was clear that Paruch wanted to stay at Everett - but board conflicts "made it impossible to stay."
Reffner said most board members would have been happy to see Paruch stay, with her contract open to renegotiation upon its June 2013 expiration.
In her parting speech, Paruch offered advice to the board members who'd allegedly contributed to her departure.
"Let this district continue to grow and flourish. Don't stifle it for selfish reasons. That's not your role," she said. "Whomever you choose as your new leader, work with them."
That choice could be months away, as Reffner said Paruch will likely be kept on for her full 90-day obligation.
Sams said the board could select an interim superintendent - or even ask a former leader to come out of retirement - but Reffner said the search, at this point, is for a permanent post.
Choosing a new superintendent could be particularly stressful mid-year, especially with a district construction project under way, Reffner said.
At least one nearby school district has experience switching horses midstream: Central Fulton, where Paruch is set to take over in the coming months.
"We do that quite often," said Richard Daubert, acting Central Fulton superintendent and head of the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit, a regional education agency.
Daubert took over in similar circumstances to Everett's, with the district's prior head resigning mid-school-year.
"I don't know when a good time is to change superintendents," Daubert said, laughing. "But the summer would be a better time."
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.