Kellerer named Nampa superintendent after secretive hiring process

(UPDATED, 9:20 a.m. Thursday, to reflect that Kellerer was the top choice of Nampa trustees.)

Paula Kellerer will move from Nampa’s Northwest Nazarene University to the Nampa School District.

The district named the dean of NNU’s College of Adult and Graduate Studies as its new superintendent. She will succeed David Peterson, who is retiring on June 30.

Paula Kellerer

“Her work at NNU, and in the wider community, embodies the innovation and success that are vital to a thriving public school district and we believe she will be a driving force for achievement in support of our mission and values,” said Nampa trustee Brian McGourty, who headed Nampa’s search committee.

Kellerer’s hiring became official Wednesday evening — one day after trustees selected but did not publicly name a new superintendent.

On Tuesday night, trustees voted to offer the superintendent’s job to one of two finalists. But trustees referred only to the prospective hire as “Candidate A,” and said they would not publicly name their choice until they came to terms on a contract.

Kellerer was “Candidate A,” the board’s first choice, district spokeswoman Kathleen Tuck said Thursday morning.

Wednesday’s negotiations process moved quickly.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Nampa trustee Mike Fuller said he called to make the job offer, and said the district’s human resources director would follow up to discuss contract details. On Wednesday morning, Fuller said details of the contract could be made public later that day.

That turned out to be the case. The district announced Kellerer’s hiring Wednesday evening. Kellerer’s contract wasn’t made immediately available, but Tuck said Kellerer would receive a $144,200 salary. She would rank as the sixth highest-paid superintendent in Idaho and make nearly the same as Peterson.

As a dean at NNU, Kellerer’s role has been to helps adult learners balance family, study and work responsibilities. She previously served as a program director, chair of NNU’s Department of Education and dean of NNU’s School of Education, Social Work and Counseling.

She was assistant superintendent in the Nampa district from 2004 to 2010, before going to NNU.

Kellerer earned her doctorate from the University of Idaho in 2006.

The timeline — and an unusual process

The state’s third-largest school district winnowed its field to two finalists last week: Kellerer and William Fritz, an assistant schools superintendent from Indian River, Fla. Trustees, district and community representatives and parents and students interviewed five candidates Friday.

Then came Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Trustees met in a closed executive session to determine if the hiring process needed to continue — if they’d heard enough from the candidates and the community to make a decision, Fuller said.

In open session, trustees discussed the merits of the candidates, referring to them as “Candidate A” and “Candidate B” and not using their names. Trustees unanimously selected “Candidate A.”

McGourty said the board did not publicly name their selection to maintain the “confidentiality of the choice.” He said the board acted on the advice of the Idaho School Boards Association.

The process was unusual but not unprecedented, ISBA executive director Karen Echeverria said Wednesday.

The process is legal, Echeverria said Wednesday, and it’s recommended if a district hasn’t yet come to terms with a would-be hire.

“It would be awful for the community, staff, the board and the candidate if they announced the name and then they were unable to come to terms on a contract,” Echeverria said.

Idaho Education News filed a formal complaint against the Nampa School Board Wednesday, for possible violation of Idaho’s open meeting laws.

The complaint, filed with the Canyon County prosecuting attorney’s office, is based on Idaho code 74-201, which states “…that the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.”

Chief deputy prosecutor Sam Laugheed said he intends to investigate the complaint Thursday.

Idaho Education News managing editor Jennifer Swindell contributed to this report.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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