Concerns over turnover at top of KS districts

Posted at 9:13 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 23:23:05-04

Pat All would not have taken this job anywhere else. "No. I wasn't looking for a job. I had 42 years in Kansas which was Shawnee Mission for the first 11, and 31 here," All said. 

The educator will serve Olathe schools as interim superintendent to buy the district more time, a year to be exact, so it can find a perfect fit to replace departing Dr. Marlin Berry. All has been retired for the past six years but said, "It's all about Olathe for me and maybe on a selfish side, how many people get to kind of go back and have one year to kind of revisit where they spent most of their adult life?"

Olathe joins the dozens of Kansas districts who have had a vacancy at the superintendent spot. G.A. Buie, executive director of the Kansas School Superintendent's Association, said, "Last year we had 51, 52 turnovers in the superintendency. Right now we have 51." Of those, just eight are still finalizing details with candidates for the 2016-2017 school year. 

In the last two years, more than 35 percent of superintendents in Kansas have retired or moved on. Buie also blames higher demands in the position and shorter tenures for the turnover.

"You know the national average for a superintendent position is less than four years, and that's never really been the reality of Kansas. We're probably closer to 5 1/2 years. I think we're starting to get closer to that national average of three to 3 1/2 years," he added.

Kansas schools have historically spent among the least in the nation, while maintaining achievement rates among the highest.

Buie said, "People have always wanted to come to Kansas. Now over the last five years we're seeing this constant turmoil in finances which that's a superintendent's bread and butter. When that gets more challenging people are going to start shying away."

All told 41 Action News this is nothing new. "When I became superintendent in 2005, we were waiting for a court decision on whether schools would close. There were concerns at that time about the equity issues of educating children in the state."

So All is stepping up when many are walking out, because after more than four decades in education she knows, "People care about children. They particularly care in this community. They have high expectations for Olathe schools. People move here because of the school district and I have faith in our community that they will continue to support the outstanding education for our students."

There are 286 districts and 284 superintendents in the state of Kansas.



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