In an unexpected shakeup, schools chief Sherri Ybarra’s newly hired chief policy advisor has backed out of the job and will remain with his current employer, Ybarra’s office announced in a Friday afternoon news release.
The unexpected news could leave Ybarra with a key vacancy in one of the most visible spots near the top of her executive team.
Last month, Ybarra announced that her current chief policy advisor Duncan Robb will be leaving his position on Aug. 17. At that time, Ybarra announced that she hired Will Goodman to serve as her next chief policy advisor — even announcing a Sept. 17 start date and a salary of $100,000.
But Goodman reconsidered before he could even start.
According to a SDE news release, Goodman said Friday that the school district needs him to remain in his current role.
“When I reviewed with the Mountain Home superintendent the next steps for our major technology projects, I realized it would be a mistake for me to leave at this critical time,” Goodman said in a SDE news release. “I appreciate Superintendent Ybarra accepting my apology and graciously putting the needs of our students first.”
Ybarra confirmed the change of plans.
“I was looking forward to working with Will again, but I accept his decision and respect his loyalty to his current employer,” Ybarra said in the news release. “I am considering various options for how to move forward.”
Friday’s news was surprising because Goodman is a longtime Ybarra ally who has worked with her before. Goodman previously served as Ybarra’s chief technology officer before leaving the post to return to the Mountain Home School District in 2015. Like Goodman, Ybarra was a veteran of the Mountain Home School District.
Goodman currently serves as director of operations and technology in Mountain Home.
Ybarra has already experienced turnover at the highest levels of her office this summer. Former Chief Deputy Superintendent Pete Koehler — who was one of Ybarra’s very first hires —retired last month. Ybarra hired former Challis Superintendent Peter McPherson to serve as her new chief deputy.
Robb will remain in his position as Ybarra’s chief policy advisor until Aug. 17. On Thursday, he said he does not yet have another job.
The chief deputy and chief policy advisor are perhaps the two most important and visible spots in Ybarra’s office. They are responsible for working with legislators, meeting education stakeholders, developing relationships at the highest levels of state government, presenting bills and working to implement Ybarra’s vision and policies.