LONG CREEK - Family means everything, and that is the reason Lloyd Hartley resigned his position as superintendent of the Long Creek School effective at the end of the school year.
After two years on the job, he and his family are moving to Glendale, north of Grants Pass, "to be closer to family." Both his family and his wife's family live in the area. And with a new son, both Hartleys wanted to be closer to relatives.
"We're going to miss this place. They've treated me really well here - the students, and the community, and the board too," Hartley says.
Hartley has his work cut out for him before his move. Two teachers from Long Creek are also leaving at the end of the year; four budget committee positions need to be filled as well as one school board position.
Science teacher, Scott Zarnegar, who has been at Long Creek for two years, is leaving to complete his degree in chemistry. And elementary teacher, Marianne Smith, who has been teaching for five years at Long Creek, is leaving to be with her husband.
"The two teachers that are leaving are very good teachers and we're sad to see them go. They're leaving on very good terms. They're just going to pursue their personal or academic goals, and that's good for them.
"But the new people that come in will bring their own characteristics to the school and that's good for the kids. It's always nice to have a fresh teacher come into the district," Hartley expresses.
"My goal is to get everybody hired and in place and the year ready to go before we leave so there is a real smooth transition. For the teaching positions, we've set up interview committees and we're interviewing these next couple of weeks for those positions. And for the superintendent's position the board and myself will be more involved. I will be as involved in the superintendent search as much the board wants me to be. So right now I'm just collecting the applications. Once I get a good number of applications in then I'm going to take them to the board and we'll discuss the process," Hartley explains.
The interview committees consist of teachers from the appropriate grade levels, board members and Hartley. The committee will make a recommendation to the board and the board will hire the teachers based on the recommendation from the interview committees.
"For the elementary position we've received a number of applicants. So I'm very confident we will be able to find a solid replacement for Mrs. Smith," Hartley confides. "But the whole state of Oregon is short of science teachers, so we've been recruiting for that and calling the colleges and we've gotten some applications in and we're hoping one of those works out. If one doesn't we'll have to look at some other options."
Needless to say, there are no plans to close the school.
"There have been rumors about schools closing down for years - the small schools especially. But, right now Long Creek is financially solid. We've put together a balanced budget, we're running a good staff with plenty of electives, after-school sports, and so there are no plans to do any consolidation or any closing of the school," Hartley states. In fact, he anticipates an increase in student enrollment next year, and has seven foreign exchange students already in place.
So with a balanced budget and potential for an increased student population, Hartley says the board anticipates filling the four budget committee positions at the next budget meeting.
"Budget committee members have to live in same [school] zones as board members - and that's the difficulty [in filling those positions]. There are people who want to be on the committee and the board but they don't always live in the zone," Hartley explains.
The budget committee is a 14-member committee, made up of the seven board members and seven committee members. They meet two to three times a year to overview, review and revise the budget before the board's approval.
The one vacant board position to be filled is the late Jim Cannon's seat. Cannon died this past winter having served thirty-plus years on the board. The school will be dedicating the multi-purpose room to Cannon later this year.
Hartley acknowledges that his position has been one of learning, but is also proud of his accomplishments.
"This was my first administrative job and being the only administrator in a school district it was challenging to learn everything that had to be done," Hartley confesses. "But, I think we've built a staff that works really well together. We help each other out and we make it an enjoyable learning environment for our students. I also outlined the budget to add longevity to the school and to operate within reasonable means," he adds speaking of his successes.
All the same Hartley is excited about his move and new challenge as superintendent of the Glendale school district.
"Glendale is a little bigger, but it's still small enough where I can get to know the students and be a part of their lives," Hartley explains. And getting to know the students is important to Hartley. "The crux of a superintendent's job is to make policy and to enforce policy. It's very difficult to put good policy in place if you don't know the kids that the policy affects. So it's very important for me to get to know the kids and their needs."
Hartley concludes, "We've really liked the kids here at Long Creek. These students have been great to get to know - for both me and Sandy."