Karl Bruchhaus (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 10:25 AM
The appointment of Karl Bruchhaus as the new superintendent Saturday by the Calcasieu Parish School Board has created much discussion and controversy throughout the parish.
Bruchhaus, a certified public accountant who is the district’s chief financial officer, was the only candidate who wasn’t an educator. Bruchhaus has been the district’s CFO since 1996. He has 26 years of experience working in Louisiana school systems’ central offices in various finance positions.
Bruchhaus competed against three other finalists Saturday — Marcus Jackson of Atlanta, Charles Michel of Metairie and Ina Delahoussaye of Lake Charles — all of whom hold doctorate degrees and have extensive backgrounds as educators.
Reactions on the American Press Facebook page and website were mixed. Gayle Provost wrote she was glad Bruchhaus got the job.
“We need a financial officer with experience to run the school board,” Provost wrote. “We have seen how educators have done, let’s get someone in there that can handle the tough situations.”
Andrew Monceaux wrote that he was upset that the board didn’t listen to what people wanted and that the No. 1 priority from stakeholders in the parish was for the board to choose a candidate with an educational background.
“I guess the other three finalists with doctorate degrees in education was not enough for the school board members, they needed an accountant with no educational background,” Monceaux wrote.
Holly Boffy, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education representative, said that BESE does set qualifications for superintendents, but the hiring of candidates is the authority of the local school district. Among some of BESE’s superintendent qualifications are a Louisiana teaching certificate, experience in school administration and a master’s degree.
CPSB’s application for superintendent said a candidate must meet BESE’s qualifications or have at least “10 years of administrative experience in a school system, a history of supervisory responsibility regarding significant aspects of school operations or curriculum and a history of experience in supervision of personnel.” Bruchhaus meets the latter qualifications.
“So while BESE sets forth criteria for what we believe is necessary for a superintendent, we believe and understand that the authority in our state is at the local level,” Boffy said. “This is a path that allows the local school district to hire the people they think are most qualified to run their district.”
Boffy said that BESE does allow a school board to hire a candidate that doesn’t meet BESE’s recommended qualifications with the provision that a chief academic officer is hired to oversee academics and curriculum.
BESE Bulletin 741, Section 505, states “In the event that an LEA (local educational authority) in Louisiana, through its locally authorized governing board, chooses to select a superintendent who does not meet the eligibility requirements necessary to obtain certification as a superintendent, such LEA may appoint the candidate, provided that the district appoints a chief academic officer whose primary and substantial job description shall govern the academics of the district including curriculum and instruction; the chief academic officer possesses a valid state-issued teaching certificate; the chief academic officer also meets all criteria required of a superintendent set forth in existing BESE policy; and the chief academic officer is appointed no later than 120 days after the appointment of the superintendent candidate.”
After his appointment Saturday, Bruchhaus said the board was aware that if he was selected a chief academic officer would have to be hired. He said CPSB’s current vacancy for the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction will be changed to a chief academic officer position.
Boffy said CPSB was within its legal right to add a provision to its superintendent qualifications and select a candidate that best fits the district’s needs.
“Hiring the superintendent, in my mind, is the most important responsibility of a local school board,” Boffy said. “It’s something that they have the authority over doing. So while we set these minimum requirements, they have the authority to do what they need to do.”
Posted By: cr On: 6/18/2014
Title: it's about time
it's about time the CPSB gets someone with skills in the financial arena in the top job. "Education" experience does not mean that you have the skills to run an organization the size of CPSB. I wish Bruchhaus well and think this is finally a step in the right direction.
Posted By: R L B On: 6/17/2014
Title: Last in the Nation
That's why Louisiana is and will be last the nation regarding educating their children. This man has no business holding a superintendent's position. When you choose to select the least qualified, least educated person over persons with doctorate degrees you are still playing the good ole boy game. You have a long way to go in being fair, right and just. Good luck because you are going to need it.