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Nye County school shakeup continues, interim leader selected

The Nye County School Board on Friday placed Superintendent Warren Shillingburg on administrative leave for the remainder of his contract through June 30 and appointed Assistant Superintendent Laura Weir to replace him in the interim.

Shillingburg will be relieved of all administrative duties and will continue to be paid by the Nye County School District. He was not present at the meeting, after saying earlier this month that he was out of state for a personal matter.

The move comes after months of back and forth between the board and Shillingburg after the board initially extended his contract in December.

The now-former superintendent said on Friday he felt the board has mishandled the situation, and now puts themselves in a poor position to find a suitable replacement.

He said he felt he was not given an explanation for his termination or any opportunity to improve.

“I have received zero feedback, except for a couple of complaints about strategic planning that I have done exactly how I said I would do and how it should be done,” Shillingburg wrote in a text message. “No one understands the process except for me.”

Next steps

In a discussion about soliciting applicants to have a new superintendent by August, Board President Bryan Wulfenstein said he would like to see more accountability from the new school leader. Wulfenstein outlined his priorities in the hiring process and said he wanted to find someone who can hit the ground running and bring a strategic plan to the board within two months.

“I directly remember a public comment made in the past where someone said if you hire a new superintendent, don’t expect that new superintendent to accomplish anything within the first year,” Wulfenstein said. “I think it is so sad that we have set the bar so low as a school district.”

Shillingburg never provided a complete draft of a strategic plan to the School Board in his three years as leader of the district. He contended that it was because of circumstances outside his control, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of a contract renewal.

Wulfenstein made it clear, however, that a plan would be essential for the next superintendent to get done.

He emphasized the importance of having some kind of plan for the county to work off of in order to no longer be the lowest-performing district in Nevada.

“I don’t think it has to be some glorious, magical thing that’s perfect,” Wulfenstein said. “It can be a living, breathing plan — if we’re doing something and it’s not working, let’s change it and not do that anymore.”

Wulfenstein advocated for hiring a new superintendent with a one-year contract, to allow the board to evaluate their performance without being locked into working with them for three years.

The board unanimously passed a motion to do so.

Trustee Chelsy Fischer said she felt it was important for the board to consult with district principals and administrators throughout the hiring process. A motion to begin a process to solicit applications for the superintendent position, with a closing date of July 14, passed unanimously.

Wulfenstein also informed the board that Teresa Stoddard had resigned as a trustee the previous day. Stoddard previously represented Area II of the county and was the board president before Wulfenstein assumed the position this year.

Wulfenstein did not disclose the reason for Stoddard’s resignation.

The former trustee was a supporter of Shillingburg and last year exchanged emails with him about his absence from a December meeting where the trustees initially renewed his contract.

Stoddard could not be reached for comment Friday.

Contact Christian Casale at ccasale@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4551. Follow @vanityhack on Twitter.

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