Archive for Thursday, April 13, 2006

District’s No. 2 man submits resignation

April 13, 2006

Bill Hatfield, who's serving as interim school superintendent, has submitted his resignation.

Hatfield, who has been one of the architects behind the Basehor-Linwood school district's resurgence on state assessment tests, submitted his resignation to the school board last week. He has been offered a job as principal of Turner Middle School.

Hatfield was promoted three years ago to assistant superintendent, and his main task was to align district curriculum with state benchmarks and improve flat test scores.

The school board has not yet accepted Hatfield's resignation.

School board president Kerry Mueller said the board could vote on his resignation at a special meeting set for Monday night.

Mueller, who's served on the school board since 1992, said she can't remember a time when the board did not accept a resignation.

His departure adds more uncertainty to the school district.

"I'm sure people are wondering what's going on," Mueller said. "I can tell you the board is trying its hardest to make the right decision."

When asked whether his resignation had anything to do with the recent unrest in the district surrounding Superintendent Jill Hackett, Hatfield said he wished to reserve comment until after the board had decided on superintendent's fate. While Hackett has been on 30 days' administrative leave, Hatfield has taken over the reins of the district.

"It is my desire for the board to act on my resignation," Hatfield said. "It would be much easier for me to answer that question once the resignation is resolved."

Hatfield has worked as an administrator in Basehor-Linwood for the last six years. His first three years were spent as principal at Basehor-Linwood High School.

In May 2002, under the-Superintendent Cal Cormack, the school board appointed Hatfield assistant superintendent. The position had been vacant for three years.

During his tenure, each curricular area has undergone a vast revision, and test scores -- the hallmark in complying with the federal No Child Left Behind Act -- have steadily increased. Last fall, the district announced Basehor-Linwood schools combined to receive 13 awards of excellence in 18 testing areas.

Hatfield takes little of the credit for shepherding test scores in the right direction, and instead heaps praise on other administrators, teachers and students.

"I think that we as a team have made great progress on bringing our curriculum up to date," Hatfield said. He added, "I'm proud of our accomplishment with that. I'm proud to have worked as a group to do that. ... I'm proud of a lot of things that have occurred over these last three years.

"I think we have a pretty good recipe for moving those scores in a positive direction. I feel like I played the role I needed to play here, and I've been told by others I played it well."

Hatfield, who indicated he'd someday like to return to the classroom as a teacher, said he doesn't believe going from an assistant superintendent to a middle school principal is a bad career move.

"Although it's probably something some might perceive as unusual, for me it's not necessarily so," he said. "I like variety, and I like to try new things. I just think life is too short and people ought to try a variety of things.

"I always enjoyed working as a building principal and the daily contact you have with teachers and especially the students."

Mueller said the board has not yet discussed any candidates to replace Hatfield, or a process in finding his successor.

"We're sad to see Mr. Hatfield leave," she said. "Over the last three years the impact in the test scores can be directly attributed to his leadership and the way he has guided the curriculum revisions with his team of teachers."

The third member of district's administrative team -- director of building operations Don Swartz -- said he has no plans "other than to continue what I do to fulfill the requirements of my current job."

"I'll do my job like I always have and continue to try and keep the best interests of the district in the forefront," he said.

Hatfield said he believes the school district will continue to thrive in his absence.

"I really don't want a big to-do about me leaving," Hatfield said. He added, "I'd like to think I left the district in better shape than it was when I arrived. ... I think we've turned a corner."

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