Interim Superintendent – my thoughts on the choice
When I think of the KCK Interim Superintendent for 2020-2021, I think of words like this: qualified, capable, experienced, familiar with our community. In the stormy waters of this moment in time, I’d like KCKPS to hire a steady hand at the helm. And I’d like the KCK Board of Education to prioritize a good, supportive working relationship with the Interim Superintendent. It’s going to take everyone working together to get through the fast approaching school year.
To start with qualified, Kansas law (KSA§72-1134) requires each school district to have a superintendent, and the superintendent must have a Professional School Leadership License. You can find all the requirements for that license at the state department of education website, ksde.org. Just briefly though, it requires a teaching license and 5 years’ professional experience in a state-accredited school, and it requires good grades in a graduate degree including a school leadership program. An individual with these qualifications then has to pass a test and do an internship in order to receive a 5-year professional school leadership license. You can’t just hire anyone to be a superintendent, even as an interim.
Clearly there are a limited number of people with the qualifications who are in a position to step up by the end of August. Such a position is often filled by a retired superintendent. We tried that in 2018, but interactions with the board leadership at the time were so caustic that she left after a few weeks. This time around, in my opinion, we can't afford governing by disruption. We need a board, administration, staff, families, students and community focused on working through urgent issues. We need a working environment that respects and supports every person involved in the education of our children.
This brings me to the concept of capable, experienced and familiar with our community. There are a handful of people in KCK who are qualified to be an Interim Superintendent, who have worked for our school district, and who are committed to the good of our community. A couple of them have only recently retired which presents some technical challenges in complying with KPERS retirement provisions. It might be worth coordinating with the state authorities to assure compliance and still be fair if such a candidate were willing to step up as Interim Superintendent. Beyond this group of possibilities, there may be other individuals from nearby communities who have a working knowledge of the advances and challenges that characterize USD500.
Whoever the board choses as Interim Superintendent, I encourage the board to fully empower that person to do the job at hand. This Interim Superintendent cannot simply coast along as a caretaker or just rubber stamp instructions from a board member. This time active leadership is required. We’re in fast-moving waters, not a placid lake. There are morale issues that need to be addressed, numerous administrative vacancies that need to be filled, special funding to be secured, tight budget to be managed, decisions about distance-learning, the digital divide, questions about school sports, providing school lunches, contact-tracing when someone becomes ill, promoting face masks and hand washing, etc., etc. It seems to me that empowering the Interim Superintendent to make administrative decisions is key. Hire an Interim Superintendent that we can trust and support. Hire someone qualified, capable, experienced, and familiar with our community.
This Blog is being generated by a group of citizens invited by USD 500 to participate as a Citizen's Advisory Committee during the Bond Issue campaign. This group continues to be involved in supporting USD 500 and watching the results from the successful Bond election. This Blog is best read from the bottom/oldest post to the to/newest post.