Hallmark tabbed lone finalist in superintendent search

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In the time in between when an agenda was drawn up for an emergency meeting of the Sealy ISD Board of Trustees and the actual meeting took place, Governor Greg Abbott established orders to keep schools closed until May 4 and postpone all local elections.

Although two of the four items on the agenda were to discuss those topics where action had previously been made for them, the meeting was not all for naught as one of the final steps was made in the search for a new superintendent.

After closed session, the board of trustees unanimously voted to name Dr. Bryan Hallmark its lone finalist in the superintendent search.

“Over 80 initial applications were evaluated by the board of trustees following the March 11th application deadline,” the statement released Saturday morning says. “After evaluations and interviews which concluded Friday, April 3rd, 2020, the SISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously 7-0 to name Dr. Hallmark and begin the mandatory 21-day waiting period before a formal contract can be reached and approved.”

Board President Ryan Reichardt elaborated on what separated Dr. Hallmark from the rest.

“I would say we had many applicants that could have all stepped right in and been successful in Sealy,” he said. “What set Dr. Hallmark apart is how well-rounded he is in leadership, curriculum and investing in community. His experience, skill sets and family seemed the best fit for our district, both short and long term.”

Dr. Hallmark is currently the assistant superintendent of operations and school leadership at Georgetown ISD and previously served as the La Grange High School Principal. He and his wife, Andrea, have been in education for 19 years and they have two children, Cole (11) and Carly (4).

“We are really excited to bring our family to Sealy,” Dr. Hallmark said. “Sealy ISD is a district with strong traditions and a long history of success. I cannot wait to meet the talented students and staff.”

“Following the 21-day period and a formal contract,” the release says, “it is expected that Dr. Hallmark shall begin his duties at SISD in late April. Current SISD Superintendent Sheryl Moore will officially retire June 30th and aid in the transition of leadership during these uncertain times for public education.”

Until then, Moore and the current board of trustees have work to do which included two more resolutions presented by CFO Lisa Svoboda in the open session. The only one that needed action, passed unanimously.

“(The first) is kind of along the same lines, we found out other information from our attorneys since this agenda was prepared that we don’t actually have to rescind it,” Svoboda said. “What we are looking at is the previous resolution that you all passed which extended the authority to dictate a premium pay schedule.”

After sitting in on a multitude of phone conversations, “all the advice we got … (was that) the superintendent should go ahead and take that authority to create that premium pay schedule and truly pay premium pay to those employees who are having to do jobs above and beyond their normal job description and/or having to come in contact with other people,” said Svoboda.

Cafeteria workers and the payroll clerk were “the two groups in my mind right now that qualify for premium pay,” Svoboda said, while maintenance workers have only been called in for their regular duties.

The other resolution was “to delegate authority to the superintendent to request waivers to the commissioner of education for temporary school closures related to COVID-19,” although that mandate could too be updated.

“By passing this resolution,” Svoboda said, “you’re just giving that authority to the superintendent to go ahead and process those waivers and get those turned in. Again, these things change day to day; they could come out tomorrow and say, ‘Never mind, nobody has to do a waiver because nobody’s coming back!’ but as it stands right now, we are still required to submit and file the papers.”

After a motion by Joe Mike Young was seconded by Creed Roberts, it passed unanimously and the discussion moved to the election decision that was made for them.

“Before it was left to the school district whether or not we wanted to proceed with our May elections or kick it back to November,” Moore said. “We were really hoping to get it done in May but it got pretty clear that it’s in the public’s best interest not to do that. What this means is that when it comes time for your budgeting next year, you’re going to have to budget for two elections because you’ll have this one in November and then the May election, so it’s going to cost twice much.”

Trustee Kristen Novicke posed the question of what that number is going to look like.

“Last year we spent about $6,000,” Svoboda said. “And we’ve already invested some money into this May election which we’re going to have to re-spend in November, unfortunately. When you go to the poll and sign on the little iPad, we had to purchase software that runs that and it basically snapshotted the registered voters of that time. Well, now we’ll have to purchase new software because people will still be allowed to register between May and whatever that cutoff date is in October.”

The election has incumbent Jay Aguado being challenged by Ralph Bond for Place 3 while Katy Grigar is unopposed for Place 2.

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