With current Unified School District 373 Superintendent Deb Hamm having recently announced her retirement effective June 30, 2020, the Newton Board of Education set its sights on finding her successor at its most recent meeting.

Broaching the impending (potentially time-consuming) hire for the first time, an initial timeline of the search for a new superintendent was reviewed with the BOE on Monday. The first step, Hamm noted, would be selecting from three entities (Kansas Association of School Boards, McPherson and Jacobson, and Ray and Associates) that offered their assistance with the search.

"I am strongly inclined to emphasize KASB," said board member Steve Richards. "I have a significant level of confidence with their work."

"I felt they did a good job listening and filtering," BOE Vice President Carol Sue Stayrook Hobbs said of the KASB's work on the last superintendent search.

Members of the BOE were in consensus that having options would be beneficial and the majority showed a preference toward KASB — because of its history and comparative cost benefits — and McPherson and Jacobson as finalists to consider as consultants in the superintendent search.

"Despite the cost difference, I think it would be worth interviewing both of them," said board member Jennifer Budde.

Following the determination of finalists, the next steps for the school board would be to interview both entities at the next BOE meeting on Oct. 28 and selecting its consultant that same night, so that the entity chosen can begin seeking community input in November before finalizing search parameters and timeline by the end of that month (with a better idea of costs as well).

A work session was scheduled for 6 p.m. prior to the Oct. 28 BOE meeting to hold interviews, allowing the Newton school board to make its final decision during the regular board meeting. Additionally, as Hamm is transitioning out, she noted board clerk Joni Jantz and director of business services Matt Morford will handle the majority of communication on the superintendent search moving forward.

In other business, the Newton BOE:

Heard from community member Chuck Friesen regarding the discussion on renaming Lindley Hall addressed at the last board meeting, who noted "changing the name won't change history."
Received a donation of $6,000 from the Newton Rotary Club's annual Birdies Against Bullying tournament.
Learned about the zones of regulation and calm corner practices being implemented this year at South Breeze Elementary through a presentation from teachers Ashley Best and Jenn Criswell.
Approved the consent agenda items, including credit card limits, disposal of equipment, renewal of Lexia licenses and more.
Approved an agreement with USD 259 for transportation services.
Approved special education procedures as presented, including new procedures relating to staff absences, staff shortages, extra-curricular and nonacademic support, re-evaluations and IEP progress reports.
Approved donations and gift requests of a 2003 Dodge Durango ($2,000 value) from Joseph Joliff to the NHS auto department; $8,555.80 from the South Breeze PTO to South Breeze for field trip expenses, books, flexible seating, etc.; Student pencil boxes ($60) from Michael Haskew to Northridge Elementary (and shared with other elementary buildings); $100 from Casey's General Store to NHS for the Experiential Learning Day; and $250 from Thrivent to the NHS Ag Academy to help with foods costs for its pork chop concession booth.
Approved membership with the Schools for Fair Funding for 2019-20 at a reduced cost of $3,694.02 as the SFF enters monitoring status.
Heard an update from the District Leadership Team looking at student success rates in USD 373.
Learned that the district is working with a vendor to hopefully have livestreaming services in place by January 2020.