Work to select next superintendent advances

Students and staff participate in the process of selecting the next superintendent

By Izzy Hedges, Assistant Online Editor

The school board has gathered input from the community as it works to select the next USD 497 superintendent.

This month, the Lawrence Board of Education met with consultants from Ray and Associates to discuss the search process. The consultants also gathered input from teachers, students and others.

“I think there has been a lot of turnover recently with the superintendent position, and I personally know that all my years up until high school, I didn’t know who the superintendent was,” senior Jackson Maher said. “I think the community, student and teachers should be involved, because whoever they hire, it’s going to directly affect them.”

The superintendent answers directly to the school board and oversees operation of the district. The previous superintendent, Kyle Hayden, stepped down after one year on the job and is currently serving as the district’s chief operations officer. Anna Stubblefield is serving as interim superintendent.

A group of nine StuCo students who as a part of helping with the search,  Bryce Smith, Hailey Alt, Adam Miles, Jackson Maher, Donovan Applegarth, Abdullah Ahmed and Vendandshi Patel, went to the recent meetings to offer input.

“I think the students should take advantage of the services they have involving the superintendent,” freshman Vendandshi Patel said. “The students don’t always know what services they have. We want someone who has connections with students and who is really open-minded and involved with the student body.”

Interviews aren’t expected to take place until January when new school board members will be taking their seats following November elections. During the interview process, anyone in the community will be able to meet the finalists during meet-and-greet receptions.

Debate and forensics teacher Jeff Plinsky said the next superintendent needs to understand the needs of USD 497.

“I think we need a superintendent who has worked in a district that has a good understanding of what diversity means and how to effectively implement it in an organization,said Plinsky, who is also vice president of the Lawrence Education Association. “We need a superintendent who is very good at organization and communication. It’s also important when we pick a leader, that the leader has an idea of what student experiences are, so that the positive can be perpetuated and the negative can be hopefully eliminated.”

On Oct. 19, consultants will present the feedback they’ve gathered to the school board, which will determine a salary range and candidate profile to use in advertising the opening.