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Six Questions with Orland School District 135’s New Interim Superintendent

Patch spoke with Carol Kunst right after her appointment as Orland School District 135’s new interim head administrator, for one year, about challenges, meeting the growing needs of students and leaving Burbank’s school district.

How will you begin in this role?

Carol Kunst: Definitely I’m going to take some time to speak with the other administrators to get a sense of where I need to focus my time and energy, and hear from the board of education and the community just to get some directions as to where our future initiatives need to begin. And what initiatives also need to have additional attention paid to them.

Do you foresee any challenges going in?

I think the same challenges other districts are facing. Obviously that’s going back to unfunded mandates, and more and more financial responsibilities placed on districts for projects that we’re not receiving any reimbursement. As we talk about the Common Core Standards there will be additional financial responsibilities the district will incur that we will definitely need to consider.

What are your thoughts on growing needs of special education, and other unique aspects of students to be addressed?

We need to very carefully monitor our efforts and initiatives related to special education. One of the ways we can look at special education in terms of funding is to take a good look at our service delivery models. Are they appropriate for student populations? Are we meeting the needs of students? Sometimes it’s not always a matter of hiring added staff, but looking at the staff we have and making sure we are using our district’s resources, not just in terms of finances but in terms of personnel as effectively and efficiently as possible.

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Can you tell us about your background?

This will be starting my fifth year as a superintendent. I come from Burbank School District 111. Previously I was superintendent in Thorton School District 154. I have extensive administrative experience in pretty much every aspect of central office administration. I have been an administrator in special education for several years. Being a superintendent in a small school district like Thorton I was responsible for every aspect. I was the business manager. I oversaw buildings and grounds, curriculum, personnel. I’m pretty well schooled. I have a variety of experiences that will definitely assist me as I take over the leadership role in District 135.

Under what circumstances did you leave the Burbank district?

I think it was July 2011. I just made the decision that I’d like to move on to another school district. Burbank is a large district. I wanted the experience of working in a larger district. I think that the board of education was looking to move the district forward in a direction, and I believe I was supportive in their initiatives. I just believe that there came a point where I believe it would be in the best interest for myself to move on to another district and utilize the experiences I’ve had. There were some changes on the school board and I just felt the match, the relationship at times was difficult at best. Obviously I’ve had an opportunity to meet with this board, and I just feel that already they’ve indicated an expression of confidence and support in me. That’s the kind of relationship between a superintendent and a board that I am seeking. So it was really to improve my position by working with a board where we could be more productive in terms of what we are able to do for children.

I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve talked to somebody where the relationship between a board and a superintendent have begun to sour, and at that point the writing is on the wall.  So, it was pretty much in July where I had the year, and it would probably be in the best interest for the district and myself for me to find another board, another district, where we could work collaboratively.

Did you notify the Burbank board of your intention?

I did notify the board president. The board president was aware of my intention to leave the district. I have a letter of recommendation from her dating back to August. There are no secrets.  I was honest and upfront with her all the way through the process, and I’m not the type of person to just surprise somebody. 

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Nancy June 12, 2012 at 06:21 PM
She decided to leave in July 2011? Then why did the BOE in Burbank vote to NOT RENEW her contract on March 28, 2012? Hmmm..... Sounds like the decision wasn't truly hers.
P.Y.T. June 12, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Maybe because they KNEW she was planning to leave? Is that all you have on her?
Orland June 26, 2012 at 10:22 PM
And now we have her-of course there is a story.

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