By VERNON ROBISON
Moapa Valley Progress
A plan has been put into place to address the administrative vacancy at Ute Perkins Elementary in Moapa. The school has been operating without a full-time principal for the past month after the school’s previous principal, Holly Lee, stepped down unexpectedly at the end of October. During that time, Moapa Valley High School Hal Mortensen has been operating as an interim principal at Perkins.
But last week a plan was announced that will restore a full-time administrator to the school and address community concerns about administrative stability, all while freeing up some funding for use at the school. CCSD Associate Superintendent Grant Hanevold explained the plan on Friday morning at a meeting of the Moapa Valley Community Education Advisory Board (MVCEAB).
Shortly after Lee stepped down, Hanevold said that he had met with members of the School Operational Team (SOT) at Perkins, as well as other parents in the community, to determine their wishes in hiring a new administrator.
“What we heard from that community was that they wanted stability,” Hanevold said. “They want that and they deserve that.”
Hanevold explained that because of district policy, based on the number of students at Perkins, the school was assigned the lowest paid principalship that could be assigned in the district. As a result, principal candidates tended to use the Perkins position as a way to “get their foot in the door and then potentially move to another spot,” Hanevold said. That explained the reason why the school sees such a constant change in principals, he said.
“You really can’t blame people for doing that,” Hanevold said. “It is upward mobility and it is the right thing for them to do for them. But it isn’t the right thing to do for that community.”
Hanevold said that he had several meetings with Mortensen to discuss options. He pointed out that Mortensen plans to continue as an administrator in Moapa Valley for the next decade. So it made sense that he continue in his role as principal over both MVHS and Ute Perkins.
“What that does is it provides a decade of stability,” Hanevold said.
But it was understood that Mortensen wouldn’t divide his time equally between the two schools. With a student population at MVHS of 550 students and only 150 students at Perkins, it was agreed that Mortensen’s time should be divided in proportion to student population.
“So I don’t want the Perkins folks to feel sleighted because they are not getting half of his time,” Hanevold said. “I don’t expect Hal to be there half of the time. I expect him to be there more like a quarter of the time.”
The next question, then was what to do about the day to day administration of the school. Hanevold said that the strategic budget for Perkins sets $147,000 aside for a principal’s salary with benefits. But his plan was to hire a full time Assistant Principal at the school which comes at a cost of only $108,000. That person would then work under the direction of Mortensen to handle the operations of the school, Hanevold said.
The remaining $39,000 saved would then revert back into the Perkins operating budget. The school’s principal and SOT would then determine how best to put those funds to good use, Hanevold said.
“So we got a long term solution for stability in the school,” Hanevold said. “We got a full-time assistant principal assigned which will do the day to day work collaboratively with Hal (Mortensen). And we saved almost $40,000 in the budget that can be used for other things at the school. So chalk one up for a district win. We have heard what you needed and we did it.”
Hanevold said that the name of the new assistant principal at Perkins would be announced in the near future.
“I think that you will all be happy with who that is,” he said.