Pawhuska school board president draws Cavalcade double duty

Mike Erwin Journal-Capital
Becky Moore resigned as principal of Pawhuska Elementary School.

For the second year in a row, Pawhuska Board of Education’s regular July meeting date fell on opening day of Cavalcade, the weeklong local rodeo event.

The coincidental scheduling caused a slight dilemma for Jeff Bute, the school board president and also is chairman of the Cavalcade Committee.

Although Cavalcade responsibilities forced Bute to miss the 2015 board of education session, he was able to chair the Monday, July 18, meeting — which marked the debut of Janet Neufeld as the district’s superintendent. Bute was glad the circumstances allowed him to attend.

 “I would have hated to miss, with it being the first for our new superintendent,” the school board president said.

Pawhuska board members selected Neufeld in May to succeed Dr. Landon Berry, whose resignation was effective June 30. With 30-plus years’ experience as an educator, Neufeld moved here from the Salina, Kan., area, where she was superintendent of two neighboring school systems.

During the meeting, board members delayed consideration of applicants to the school board’s vacant Seat No. 3. A special meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 1, to consider appointing someone to the open seat.

Bute said there had been several “quality applicants,” with at least five persons expressing interest in the position.

“I have no doubt our next board member will come from that group,” the board president added.

The vacancy resulted from the recent resignation of Chrisi McNeil, a fourth-year member who had been the board’s vice president. McNeil resigned due to a policy conflict related to the board’s June hiring of her brother-in-law, Joe Tillman, as Pawhuska High School football coach.

An appointment would probably be for the duration of McNeil’s term, which was not to have expired until 2018, school officials said.

Also announced at the July 18 meeting was the recent resignation of longtime local elementary school principal Beverly Moore, who has accepted the superintendent/principal position at western Osage County’s McCord School.

Moore, a Pawhuska native, had been principal at Indian Camp School and Pawhuska Elementary School since 2003. She worked in the local district for 30 years — beginning her career in Developmental First and Title I teaching positions.