School superintendent resigns

Trustees seek interim leader to fill gap this fall

At a special closed meeting on Aug. 16, School District #27 (SD27) trustees accepted the resignation of school superintendent Mark Thiessen.

Thiessen will be leaving the School District Aug. 31 to become the principal at Mennonite Educational Institute (a Christian high school in Abbotsford).

SD27 chair Tanya Guenther says the school board is “very appreciative” of all the work Thiessen has done on its behalf during his years as superintendent, and also over his many years of working with the SD27 previous to that position.

“On behalf of the board, I wish Mark great success in his next endeavour.”

However, the chair notes Thiessen’s resignation is “not the most opportune time for recruitment” of a new superintendent, with just three weeks notice before classes restart on Sept. 6.

The trustees have determined they will seek an interim superintendent for the 2016/17 school year, she explains.

Because the board received Thiessen’s notice of resignation so late in the year, Guenther says it will take until January 2017 “at the earliest” to recruit a permanent superintendent.

Current SD27 assistant superintendent Harj Manhas has been appointed as acting superintendent effective Sept. 1, until the board appoints an interim superintendent, she adds.

Guenther confirms the trustees are confident Manhas will “provide the excellent leadership required” and they are “very appreciative” to him for stepping in to help during this transition time.

The reason hiring a new superintendent takes at least four months is not only due to finding someone suitable through the typical job applications and interview process, but also the leaving notice will require to give to their own educational institutes.

“Most movement has already happened for superintendents and those looking to move into that role, seeing as it’s the beginning of the year.”

Meanwhile, Manhas will handle the day-to-day needs of SD27, she adds.

The chair confirms trustees will actively seek and hire an interim superintendent until they can appoint a permanent superintendent, and have “no intention” (at this time) of doing anything contrary to this, whether for cost savings, or any other reason.

“The [trustees decided] they wanted to have an interim superintendent come in and really allow sufficient time to undertake that process.”