West Ada appoints interim superintendent

With no deliberation or public discussion, West Ada School District trustees appointed Chief Operations Officer Joe Yochum interim superintendent during a short public meeting Thursday night.

Joe Yochum1
Joe Yochum

Yochum succeeds former Superintendent Linda Clark, who resigned unexpectedly on Friday.

Yochum has been with the district for 24 years, and became chief operations officer on July 1. Board Chairwoman Tina Dean stressed that Yochum will serve only as an interim superintendent, and that the board will soon launch a search for a permanent superintendent.

Yochum served as regional director with the district for eight years before becoming chief operations officer.

After the meeting, Yochum told a group of reporters that he will be busy. The district’s supplemental levy election is Tuesday, the budget process will soon begin and the district is building two new schools to manage growth.

“It’s a big job. We’re the largest school district in the state,” Yochum said. “And I will do everything I can to continue to provide an excellent education for our students and fulfill the mission of the West Ada School District.”

Shortly after Clark’s resignation, Yochum said he began considering the possibility that the district would need an interim superintendent. Yochum said he and other top-level managers met with Dean Monday to discuss the leadership direction the district would take.

“This evening I met with the full board (in executive session),” Yochum told reporters. “Several of us at the top level of management of the district did meet with Trustee Dean on Monday to talk about kind of where we would go from here. Since then it has just been today.”

Tean Dean
Tina Dean

Dean said she approached “various individuals” within West Ada’s upper management, asking them if they would be interested in serving as interim or permanent superintendent.

Dean did not name those individuals or discuss how many candidates trustees considered for the job.

“I took those responses back to the board, and we set the executive session for this evening so we could interview them and discuss qualifications,” Dean told reporters Thursday night.

The board did not discuss, debate or consider any other candidate during the open session of the meeting. Trustees also did not discuss Yochum’s service or qualifications in the public portion of the meeting.

“I will say that those deliberations and, sorry, not negotiations, deliberations and conversations happened in executive session, so they weren’t dismissed or not discussed, certainly,” Dean said after the meeting.

Board members met in a closed-door executive session for 90 minutes Thursday before promoting Yochum.

Board members approved Yochum’s promotion within three minutes, and without debate or discussion. The school board met in open session for a total of 10 minutes before adjourning the meeting entirely.

West Ada was without a superintendent or acting superintendent from Friday afternoon until Thursday evening.

There was no immediate timetable announced for naming a full-time superintendent, but Dean said board members will start the process by gathering public feedback.

Yochum said he was prepared to serve while this search plays out. New administrators typically begin work on July 1, but Yochum said a number of factors could influence how long the superintendent search lasts.

 

Trustees also accepted the resignation of Assistant Superintendent Barbara Leeds, the district’s No. 2 in command, on Thursday. Leeds will remain in her position through Dec. 1.

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