UPDATE 12/20: The school district has confirmed that John Allison has accepted the superintendent position with Olathe Schools.
The Olathe School District announced their sole finalist for the superintendent job early Wednesday morning as John Allison, Wichita’s superintendent for the past seven years.
Allison visited Olathe and the district on Wednesday. The school board will vote officially Monday, but sources say the meeting is just a formality and that he is their guy.
Olathe is the second largest school district in the state, behind only Wichita.
Allison said in statement on Wednesday he did not seek out this job, but entertained the idea after listening to the offer and considering the idea to be closer to his mom, who lives in the Kansas City area.
His father passed away this year, making his desires stronger than they might've been otherwise.
In a strategically-timed release, a letter was sent to staff of Wichita schools at the same time the Olathe school district announced him as the finalist.
Here’s the letter Allison wrote to Wichita district staff:
Good morning colleagues,
Open and honest communication has been one of my priorities since joining the Wichita Public Schools family as your superintendent in 2009. For this reason, I wanted to be the one to share some difficult news with you before you hear it elsewhere.
A few moments ago, I was announced as the sole finalist for the superintendent’s position in the Olathe Public School District in Johnson County. I did not seek out this opportunity, but agreed to be considered after a difficult and emotional process of reflection over the last month.
Some of you may be aware that I lost my father earlier this year after an extended illness. My parents lived in the Kansas City area, where my mom continues to reside following my father’s death. As difficult as this loss has been for my family, the opportunity to consider a position that would allow me to continue to provide leadership for public education in Kansas while at the same time being close enough to support my mother was one I couldn’t ignore.
This afternoon in Olathe I will visit with their district leaders and tour several schools. Following deliberation over the weekend, their Board of Education intends to make a final decision Monday. I will be honored to continue serving Kansas public school students – whether I am invited to serve in Olathe or I remain your superintendent in the Wichita Public Schools. I have a great deal of respect for my WPS family, and pledge to keep you informed regarding the decision of the Olathe School Board. That said, I also respect the difficult search process the Olathe board is going through, and as such will not comment any further until the Olathe board concludes their search process.
I know you will continue your focus and do what’s right for Wichita kids, regardless of the outcome of this search process. Thank you for your life-changing work on behalf of 51,000 young people in Wichita.
Allison at one time worked in the Shawnee Mission School District as the associate superintendent for education services. He also graduated from the University of Kansas.
The district in Wichita touts his leadership on systemic reform focusing on “developing and improving student literacy skills”. He believes community involvement is key to all students’ success, including students, parents, staff, partners and business leaders.
Allison and the district are declining interviews until after Monday night's board meeting.
Christa Dubill can be reached at Christa.Dubill@kshb.com.