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Morelock tapped to ‘stabilize’ SFSD as interim super

Former Newberg Superintendent Joe Morelock has been hired as interim superintendent for the Silver Falls School District (SFSD), with the goal of “stabilizing” its finances and administration.

On Monday night, the SFSD Board approved an intergovernmental agreement with Willamette Education Service District (WESD), where Morelock currently serves as superintendent.

The agreement goes into effect April 3 through June 30, during which time Morelock will be released from his duties to WESD to perform executive administrative functions for SFSD. This will include “a focus on budget” and providing “a stabilizing influence,” said the agreement, as well as advising the Board on their search for a full-time superintendent.

Morelock will spend at least 8 hours per week working from SFSD, while additional work is expected to be performed off-site. The agreement said there will be no cost to SFSD for Morelock’s services or the partnership with WESD .

Monday’s meeting lasted barely five minutes as board members had already agreed to partner with WESD for Morelock’s services after lengthy discussions March 21. The April 1 meeting was held to officially codify their decision.

Board members expressed gratitude Monday for Morelock’s willingness to help as SFSD navigates a suddenly-vacant superintendency and a cash deficit that threatens June payroll.

“I’m just grateful for Dr. Morelock being willing to help us out,” said Board Member Josh Ort.

He also thanked Board Member Owen Von Flue and Assistant Superintendent Dan Busch for their roles in finalizing the agreement.

SFSD has been searching for a new superintendent following the abrupt resignation of former Superintendent Scott Drue on March 13. Drue said in a statement before the Board he was stepping down amid difficulties in his personal life and was taking time away from public education.

Drue’s resignation came as the district was seeking solutions for a projected $825,000 deficit, which the Board first learned of during their Feb. 26 meeting. The Board is considering options including a loan against upcoming property taxes, as well as potential layoffs and furlough days.

To help unravel the deficit, SFSD has been working with WESD and other support providers. It was during these interactions they learned Morelock could serve as interim superintendent as part of the services WESD provides local districts.

Both parties may choose to extend the agreement beyond June 30, while SFSD could also choose to hire a different interim superintendent or a full-time candidate at that time.

Morelock previously helped the Newberg School District manage a budget crisis that threatened jobs, first as interim superintendent in 2018 and then as full-time superintendent in 2019. He was fired by this district’s board in 2021 amid unrelated conflicts over a new board policy banning staff from displaying “controversial, political, or quasi-political” symbols in schools.

In 2022 Morelock became superintendent of the Woodburn School District before leaving in 2023 to join WESD.

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