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Las Vegan top pick for school chief

by Sharlene Irete

In the end, there were two strong candidates in the running for the job of Douglas County’s new school superintendent. But when it came time to chose, Las Vegan Carol Lark was the favorite.

Lark, assistant superintendent of the Southeast Region of the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, was chosen by Douglas County School Board trustees Friday as the person to continue on in the selection process.

Candidate Rod Kessler, superintendent of the Johnson County School District 1 of Buffalo, Wyo. was considered a very close second choice.

Jim Huge, of Huge, Hager & Associates, the firm hired by the school district in the superintendent search, said that he and partner James Hager came to the conclusion the board couldn’t go wrong with either Lark or Kessler.

“But we were 51 over 49 percent in favor of Lark,” Huge said.

Board member Sharla Hales said that she gave Lark the top position as superintendent candidate.

“I felt good about her,” said Hales. “She’s focused on great instruction. She’s proved her effectiveness in her district and she gets things done.”

Member Cynthia Trigg noted Lark’s positive attitude about special education and about being an educator in general.

“Carol Lark shares John’s (Superintendent Soderman) passion about going into the classroom to teach.”

Board clerk Teri Jamin said that Lark was the strongest candidate.

“Lark did her homework about our mission statement and looked at the right things.” Jamin said. “She has respect for everyone from the students on up. She’s a person of strong convictions.”

Before the school board makes a final decision, the next step of the selection process is that a team investigate Lark on her job as an assistant superintendent in Las Vegas.

Huge suggested the team visit Lark’s district to verify what they heard from Lark. He recommended the team interview principals, teachers, school board members, classified employees, business people, people in the press – with anyone Lark has worked. He also suggested an interview with one person the candidate identifies as someone they’ve had a conflict or disagreement.

“You need to see if the person delivers on what they said in the interviews,” Huge said.

Going to Las Vegas are board president Connie Wennhold, board members Trigg, Keith Roman, John Louritt and Soderman. The board also decided to choose a teacher, a principal, a district classified employee and a community member to help check out Lark on her own turf.

Lark has been notified she is the first choice as a replacement for Soderman when he retires at the end of June. The team assigned by the school board plans to visit Las Vegas on Jan. 30 to conduct their interviews – again with Lark, her employees and peers.

A final decision about the choice for superintendent is to reached by Feb. 14.