The employment contract of the current Superintendent of Schools for Newton is set to expire on June 30, 2020, unless action is taken by the Newton Community Schools Board of Education prior to that date to extend or terminate. The board must take action if they plan to terminate. (NCSD Board policy 302.2) From my perspective, it is disappointing that the board of education continues to defer taking action either way. Such indecisiveness leaves the superintendent and the school community in an unnecessary state of flux and speculation. Such unrest is NOT GOOD for the education of our communities’ children. Typically, in Iowa superintendents serve under a three-year rolling contract. This best practice is good for both interests. It affords job security for the educational leader, but also offers leadership stability for the school district.
The board of education has given their constituency no indication there is a problem with the superintendent’s leadership. This leadership role is evaluated annually via a tool provided by the Iowa Association of School Boards that measure six competencies of educational leadership. It is a valuable resource, and it is NCSD Board policy code 302.5E1 that this tool will be used to evaluate the competency of the superintendent and act as a guide to determining contract extension.
The current superintendent has moved the district into a much stronger position fiscally, since joining the NCSD team. Additionally, under his leadership the administration building is ADA compliant, houses a state-of-the-art professional development center, which is frequently used by community organizations, as well as educational functions, permanently homed WEST in a campus that meets the learning needs of this population. He has partnered with building and department leaders to responsibly staff district needs. He has kept the school tax rate steady and supported the drive to pass the new Berg bond and led the construction of a world class campus. He has created a comprehensive facility repair and improvement plan with the help of interested parties. He is helping the district navigate the most recent student mental health challenges. This is a big lift.
So, I believe we should all be asking the NCSD Board of Directors what is going on with their lack of decision making. We need more information, just as they frequently ask. We also need a decision that’s good for the district, its students, employees and their families soon.