Pawhuska leadership transitions in progress

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Leadership transitions were in progress last week in Pawhuska’s public schools and its city government.

The Pawhuska Board of Education voted unanimously, 5-0, to offer the job of school superintendent to Chris Tanner for the fiscal year beginning July 1. David Cash, the current superintendent, is retiring effective June 30. This is his fifth school year in the district.

Tanner, who has been working as superintendent of Nowata Public Schools, also has worked in the past as a teacher and a coach in Pawhuska schools. He was one of a reported 17 people who applied for the Pawhuska superintendent job. The Board of Education narrowed that field to five persons it intended to interview. Board President Justin Turney said one of the five dropped out of the field before being interviewed. The board ended up interviewing four candidates and selecting Tanner.

“We hammered it out. I think, as a board, we made the right decision,” board member Tom Boone said following the vote to offer the job to Tanner.

“I appreciate you guys and the tough conversations that we’ve had,” board member Braxton Redeagle said. Board member Shannon Shaw Duty thanked Turney for his leadership during the selection process.

The agenda for the Board of Education’s meeting on Monday, May 8 indicated possible action to hire David Cash to be an athletic coach and to provide superintendent transition services. During his service as superintendent, Cash has also been the girls varsity basketball coach at Pawhuska High School.

The agenda also indicated the board would likely take up the subject of an assistant superintendent contract.

A second leadership transition that was in progress last week was in city government, with regard to the city manager position from which Interim City Manager Laura Teague has resigned. The City Council held an executive session to talk about the city manager situation during its May 1 meeting, but did not immediately hire anyone. Mayor Mark Buchanan was to handle city administrative duties until the Council could hire someone.

The Pawhuska City Council usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month, but each May it meets on the first Monday to acknowledge election results and reorganize its officer structure. The Council made a change on May 1, making Ward 3 Councilor Mark Buchanan the mayor. Ward 1 Councilor Roger Taylor had been serving in that capacity.

The change proved to be the occasion for a bit of political conflict among the councilors. At-Large Councilor Steve Tolson, who won re-election this year to a second three-year term, put himself forward for the position of Mayor. Ward 2 Councilor Susan Bayro voted with Tolson, but Councilors Rodger Milleson, Mark Buchanan and Roger Taylor voted “no” on Tolson’s candidacy and defeated the motion.

Taylor, Milleson and Buchanan then voted in favor of a motion to make Buchanan the mayor. Susan Bayro was elected Vice Mayor. Buchanan, who is a minister, was also elected the Council’s chaplain.

“I was honored to serve you guys,” Teague told the councilors. She was in the audience for the May 1 meeting. “We started a lot of good work in the city.”

Teague had displayed an ability to broker solutions to nagging policy problems, and to encourage the councilors to begin planning processes for future improvements.

“I will probably be calling you a lot for a while,” Buchanan told her.