Appointment as Utah District's Leader 'Novel,' 'Shocking'

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

OGDEN -- The Ogden School District appointed one of its own members as superintendent Monday night.

On Sept. 7, Ogden School Board member Brad Smith will become superintendent and district CEO, replacing Noel R. Zabriskie, who gave the board his notice last week and ends his job Sept. 6.

"I am excited to undertake what for me will be a great challenge," Smith said at a special meeting of the board, noting that he is a lawyer, not an educator.

"I don't perceive this as my life's calling, but I am excited."

Doug Stephens, president of the Ogden Education Association, said he heard the rumors Monday afternoon of Smith's appointment.

"I was shocked," said Stephens, who also teaches at Ben Lomond High School.

"I believe there's only one other superintendent in the state who is not credentialed, and that's the Canyon District superintendent, and I heard that he had been a teacher.

"To appoint someone without any kind of educational or administrative experience is unprecedented, and on top of that, for a school board to appoint one of its own members, I just don't know what to say. It's shocking."

Nearly all superintendents in the state hold administrative certificates, and the norm is to have classroom and/or administrative experience as well.

The school district will need to notify the state Board of Education, but foresees no problem, said board member Steven Marker.

"It's very novel, but I feel Brad is quite qualified," Marker added.

Smith confirmed he was one of the major architects of the Ogden School District's new teachers' contract, sent to teachers in early July after more than a year of failed negotiations between the district and the OEA.

Teachers were told to sign by the July 20 deadline or find new jobs.

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