‘WE ARE TRITON’
The interview process for a new superintendent of schools did not go exactly as Triton School Board members had expected, but at the end of the process the board unanimously agreed to offer the position to Triton High School Principal Craig Schlichting.
Board members had anticipated interviewing the two finalists, Schlichting and Todd Meyer, superintendent of the Jackson County Central School District, last Wednesday afternoon. The first interview was with Schlichting, and after he left the interview, Board Chair Rebecca Knutson informed those in attendance that Meyer had called earlier and said he had accepted another position. The board, she said, had two options for its meeting scheduled for later that evening. They could offer the position to Schlichting or vote to reopen the search.
During the interview process, in response to a question from a board member, Schlichting said he believes the two most important tasks facing the new superintendent are working with the community and school board and communication. The fact he has been a part of the Triton community his entire career and understands the community, he said, would be one of his strengths as superintendent.
He acknowledged that not all of the communities that make up Triton feel that they are a part of the district. Already, he said, he has tried to connect with them by attending council meetings in Claremont and West Concord.
He and Middle School Principal Luke Lutterman have been talking about ideas to bring the communities together, he said.
In addition to the communities, he said, there needs to be equal attention to all three Triton schools – elementary, middle and high school. Each school is unique and he would be visible in each.
Quoting a Clemson coach, he said that in order to be an overachiever one has to be an over believer. “I believe in ‘we are Triton,’” he said. The community, staff and students all need to work together, he said.
In response to a question about declining enrollment numbers and the number of families choosing to leave the district, he said the school must find out why they are leaving. They should be asked why they are leaving, if there is something the district is lacking. And, he added, “we need to show what we are doing.”
Among his ideas for the district, he said, is to work with the businesses in the three communities and partner with them to keep the students in the communities after graduation.
With the failure of last fall’s levy, board members said that there will be cuts made.
“We have been through three years of cuts,” Schlichting said. “I don’t know the right answer as to what should be cut.” There must be communication with the staff, he said, as the majority of the budget is in staff. But, he said, he does not believe in the idea that if you scare people enough they will vote yes on a levy.
Among his short term goals, he said, is to make sure the staff understands they are appreciated. One of the most important duties of a leader is empowering people, he said. The role of the leader is to make a significant impact on the school you work for.
In the long range, he said, seeing the three communities that make up Triton celebrate their school would be a major accomplishment. People often focus on what is going wrong, he said, when they should focus on what is going right. Be positive and talk to people, he said. “People need to know what’s going on in the district.”
His biggest reason for wanting to be superintendent?
“I believe in the people of this community, I believe in ‘We are Triton.’ It is time to unite and bring all the pieces together.”
The district and Schlichting will now negotiate the terms of his contract and upon agreement the full board will officially hire him as superintendent at a future meeting. He will officially begin his new role July 1. Current superintendent Brett Joyce is retiring at the end of the school year.