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Local

Newton superintendent applicants narrowed down

As school board nears final stages of search, it must choose from three candidates

Robyn Friedman, president of the Newton Community School District Board of Education, speaks with members of the school board at a past meeting. The school board recently announced the three finalists vying for the superintendent position, which will be vacant June 30 following the resignation of Bob Callaghan.
Robyn Friedman, president of the Newton Community School District Board of Education, speaks with members of the school board at a past meeting. The school board recently announced the three finalists vying for the superintendent position, which will be vacant June 30 following the resignation of Bob Callaghan.

School board members have condensed their pool of 31 candidates vying for the superintendent position at Newton Community School District to three finalists.

At the end of the Monday night NCSD Board of Education meeting, president Robyn Friedman officially announced the names and work history of the applicants who accepted the next phase of the interview process:

• Nicole Kooiker, superintendent of Ottumwa Community School District

• Chad Straight, superintendent of Belle Plaine Community School District

• Thomas Messinger, superintendent of Red Oak Community School District

Last week, the school board met in a closed session with its search firm, Grundmeyer Leader Search, to screen its eight semi-finalists for the Newton superintendent position, Friedman said. Board members held a Google Hangout session to speak with these remaining applicants.

Each candidate was asked nine questions and presented their case on how they fit specific qualifications for the position, a press release from the school district said. Afterward, the board deliberated and decided on three finalists, which will be invited to the school district Feb. 20 for formal interviews.

“We will have two mixed interview groups, then an administrative supervisor group and and then a board (group) — so there will be four interview times — and a tour of the district and the larger community,” Friedman said.

Stakeholders invited to the formal interview teams will provide feedback to the board, the press release said. Candidate application materials will also be shared with the formal interview teams.

Current superintendent, Bob Callaghan, announced later last year of his intention to resign from his position, effective June 30.

Kooiker has served Ottumwa for the past four years. Prior to that, she worked as superintendent of schools at West Marshall for three years, as a middle school principal of Southeast Polk for three years, associate middle school principal at Southeast Polk for three years and middle school principal/K-12 curriculum director at West Hancock for two years.

Straight has been working in Belle Plaine for six years. Before he earned the title of superintendent, he served as a middle school and high school principal at Boyer Valley for nine years and as a high school language arts instructor and coach at Logan-Magnolia Community School District for five years. His tenure as a language arts teacher and coach extends beyond that.

Messinger currently resides in Red Oak and has served the town’s school district for the past five years. Previously, he worked as a high school principal for the Burlington Community School District and has experience as an activities director, assistant principal, math teacher and coach.

School board members will review the data collected from the superintendents in a closed session Feb. 20. The school board “hopes to make an offer to the successful candidate sooner after the formal interviews, and will announce the new hire upon a successful background check.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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