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Newton superintendent finalists interviewing today, Tuesday

Texas, Iowa superintendents finalists to succeed McDermott

The two finalists to replace outgoing Newton Community School District superintendent Steve McDermott are now known.

Friday night, Board of Education President Andy Elbert said Bob Callaghan, superintendent of the Rogers Independent School District located roughly 30 miles south of Waco, Texas, would be the first of two finalists interviewed by four different community focus groups and the school board. Those interviews were conducted throughout the day today.

Tomorrow, Paula Wright, superintendent of the Chariton Community School District located about 55 miles south of Newton on Iowa Highway 14, will go through a similar process. A decision to hire and announcement could come rapidly — as was the case when a similar process led to McDermott accepting the Superintendent of Schools job with the Creston Community School District — but is expected by the end of the week.

The school board is using the same consultant firm that aided the Creston school board in its hiring process.

Callaghan has been superintendent of the Rogers school district since 2009. Prior to that, he was high school principal and then assistant superintendent of the Borger Independent School District in Texas.

From 2000 to 2005, he was principal of Temple High School, and from 1996 to 2000, he was assistant principal of the South Houston High School in Pasadena, Texas. Earlier stops involved teaching and coaching at the high school level.

Callaghan began his teaching career as an adjunct teacher at Pan American University — his alma mater — in Edingburg, Texas. He received his bachelor’s degree from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., as well as a Master’s degree in educational management from University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Wright, an Iowa native, became superintendent of the Chariton school district in 2007, and prior to that — beginning in 1998 — she was elementary principal in that district. She was an elementary teacher there from 1986 to 1998, teaching physical education, fourth grade and second grade.

She also served as the high school cheerleading sponsor from 1986 to 1990, and also coached golf from 1990 to 1998. She also led the district’s reading curriculum team from 1987 to 1998.

Wright received her bachelor’s degree from Simpson College in Indianola. She received her Master’s degree in educational administration from Drake University in 1997. During her superintendent internship, she worked with the Albia Community School District.

The Newton school district would be a significant step up for both candidates. According to the Iowa Department of Education, the district currently had a certified enrollment of 3,038 last year and a budget of roughly $13.7 million.

Chariton, which computes its enrollment the same way, had a certified enrollment of 1,380 last year, and a budget of roughly $5.6 million. The Texas Education Agency reports the Rogers school district had an enrollment of 860 — an actual head count, as opposed to Iowa’s system of weighted enrollment counts — and a budget of approximately $7.4 million last year.

McDermott’s resignation will go into effect July 1, although he likely will depart for his new job prior to that. July 1 also will be his replacement’s first day on the job.

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