- Associated Press - Friday, August 5, 2016

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - More than 20 percent of Kansas’ school districts, including some of its largest, will have new superintendents this fall, according to a state official.

Dale Dennis, the state’s deputy education commissioner, said 61 school districts, including those of Topeka, Olathe, Lawrence and Manhattan, have new leaders. Some veteran superintendents in rural districts are going elsewhere as well, including Mike Waters, who left the Cimarron district in western Kansas after 14 years for a similar job across the border in Crete, Nebraska.

Those departures follow at least two straight years of rampant turnover, which Dennis and others said has taken a toll on districts and the state. The average tenure for a superintendent in Kansas is about five years, according to The Wichita Eagle (https://j.mp/2ahQnaZ ).

“New ideas and so forth is great, but it takes a while for somebody brand new to get those ideas implemented, approved by the board and sold to the community,” Dennis said.

The Kansas Association of School Superintendents recently stepped up its efforts to mentor superintendents, pairing veteran or retired leaders with new ones and hosting a monthly “Phone a Friend” video conference to share strategies. The State Department of Education also holds workshops for new superintendents on budgeting and other issues.

Darin Headrick resigned last month from his job overseeing Kiowa County USD 422 in Greensburg. Headrick, who was Greensburg’s superintendent when a tornado destroyed most of the town in 2007, guided the district’s recovery and said he loved the work and the community. But he said it’s “difficult to be a superintendent when you see budgets get smaller and you see the quality of things you deliver to students decreasing.”

He and his wife, a middle school counselor, recently moved to Wichita, where he is seeking a job in education or the private sector.

He said he and his wife left Greensburg in part to lessen the blow of impending budget cuts in his district. Over the past nine years, as part of consolidating Greensburg schools with nearby Mullinville and Haviland, district officials reduced school staff by about a third, but more cuts were necessary, he said.

“We needed to reduce one administrator and one counselor, and it just so happened that I was an administrator and my wife was a counselor,” he said.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com



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