To state the Newton Community School District is at a high mark seems to be an understatement. Enrollment is up, the facilities have undergone many upgrades and the new Berg school came in under budget. Additionally, the housing market is booming. Families from all over Iowa are taking a look at Newton, providing vast economic benefits for many in our community.
Unfortunately, the NCSD Board of Education seems to be gambling with the contract of its superintendent, Bob Callaghan.
According to School Board President Robyn Friedman, the school board will not consider an extension of Bob’s contract at this time. They are kicking the can down the road until late winter/early spring 2020. Superintendents in Iowa typically serve with a rolling three-year contract. This strategy offers security to the superintendent and leadership continuity. Keep in mind the school board took no action to extend Bob Callaghan’s contract in 2018 or 2019.
It should be noted the Iowa Association of School Boards has created and provides to ALL school districts, a comprehensive evaluation tool that measures the six categories of educational leadership for Iowa superintendents. Additionally, every statement, with regard to the superintendent given by the board publicly, has been positive. However, this board’s actions seem to be telling.
I personally have serious concerns regarding this. First as voters, we should know how each and every member of the school board feels regarding the performance of the superintendent and his future. They have delayed their decision more than 14 months now. Waiting until after the November 2019 school board election to determine his fate is unethical in my opinion.
Second, the school board’s lack of action is causing Bob to effectively “linger” without having any knowledge of his future. How can any organization expect it’s top leaders to focus 100 percent of their energy and efforts on the Newton Schools, when his future is unknown? If the board believes Bob doesn’t deserve an extension, tell him now or terminate him. Opposite, if they are happy with his performance, extend his contract.
Third, the board’s responsibility is to hire and guide its top leadership. However, the board’s actions lead me to believe they are moving the goal posts. Or worse, they are attempting to micro-manage this school district or settle old scores.
What the board of education is doing to Bob Callaghan is shameful and all stakeholders should be concerned.
Mark W. Thayer