By Miles Maguire
The school board voted unanimously on Wednesday to support new Superintendent Bryan Davis’s controversial choice of a principal for the planned “super college” of Oshkosh.
The new principal will be Kristi Levy, currently principal of Washington Elementary School. She was chosen from three other finalists, including two external nominees and Philip D. Marshall, Principal of Webster Stanley Middle School.
Levy will begin as principal of Merrill Middle, and her responsibilities will include preparing for the new $ 53 million district college, which she will lead once it opens in two years.
The new college is called a “super” school because it will combine enrollment from existing Merrill and Webster Stanley colleges.
About a dozen staff from the Oshkosh area school district showed up to the board meeting to show their support for Marshall, and several spoke about his leadership and accomplishments.
Paula Averkamp, a teacher at Webster Stanley, urged the school board to take a closer look at the hiring process. “Don’t feel pressured to endorse an agenda item that deserves further investigation,” Averkamp said.
Tina Jeffrey, whose social media identifies her as the school district’s speech-language pathologist, asked why the board is appointing a manager for the new school instead of just filling the vacant position at Merrill.
She urged the board to table the decision “to give community members time to educate themselves and give their opinion.”
The process used by the school district “is damaging the trust of the community and obviously OASD members at all levels,” she said.
The new superintendent defended the hiring process, which he called “fair and consistent.”
He said he was impressed with Levy’s ideas for managing the transition from two schools to one.
Its plan was “exceptionally detailed and relied heavily on stakeholder input and relationship building as a path to bringing the two school communities closer together.”
“It’s a tough decision for me,” said Chairman of the Board Bob Poeschl.
But he said the board’s role is not to question the Superintendent’s recommendation for key personnel.
“I have great confidence in the integrity of Dr. Davis,” said Barbara Herzog, vice chair of the board. “When he individually assured board members that this was a clean process, I believe him and support his recommendation.”
In its ad, the school district gave this description of Levy:
“Levy is currently the principal of Washington Elementary School. She has experience at all three levels, having taught at Oshkosh North High School, South Park Middle School and Oshkosh West High School. Levy graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education. She also received her Masters in Educational Leadership and her PK-12 Principal License from UW-Oshkosh. Levy is currently pursuing a PhD in Leadership, Learning, and Service at Cardinal Stritch University. “