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Survey respondents seek 'strong leader' in incoming superintendent

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It’s more important for the new superintendent of Scottsbluff Public Schools to be practical and goal-oriented, than easygoing and balanced, according to the results of a community survey.

SBPS, in conjunction with the Nebraska School Board Association, surveyed the community as part of the district’s search to find a new superintendent. The survey had 239 respondents. One hundred forty respondents said they had school-aged children.

“The purpose of the survey, as well as the in-person and virtual engagement sessions, was to give the opportunity for important stakeholder groups such as parents, students and staff as well as business leaders and residents who don’t currently have students in school an opportunity to give the Board of Education feedback,” SBPS Melissa Price, SBPS director of communications, said.

The respondents overwhelmingly said their impression of the school was positive. About 93% of respondents said they had a positive perception of SBPS. About 90% of the 239 respondents said that community support for the district was strong.

Additionally, about 89% of respondents said they felt like their children are supported by the district. About 87% said that what they’ve heard about the district was most positive.

Respondents also told the board what characteristics they desired from a new superintendent. “Practical and goal-oriented” outranked “detail-oriented and purposeful,” followed by “creative and full of vision and ideas.” Overall, respondents ranked “easygoing, friendly and seek balance” last, although all four characteristic groups were closely rated.

Scottsbluff school board discusses search for new superintendent at meeting

Similarly, respondents ranked skills related to leadership above the skills like curriculum knowledge, public relations, or experience with innovative technology.

“It’s all very positive,” Ruth Kozal, SBPS school board president, told the Star-Herald.

For Kozal, the data will be used as supporting information as she and other board members interview and evaluate the candidates. Kozal said that other groups who interview the candidates, like teachers and administrators, will also use this data in their evaluations.

SBPS is searching for Rick Myles’s replacement. Myles led the district for 11 years. His tenure ends what the survey, board members and community members suggested has been an overall upward trend for the Panhandle's largest school district.

Nevertheless, Myles’ successor will inherit a district navigating several challenges, most urgently COVID-19. Myles, along with the Board of Education, elected to reopen their buildings for in-person education. While Myles and other administrators lauded the educational benefits of in-person instruction, doing so came at a cost.

Community wants strong communicator to build on Scottsbluff Public Schools' progress

In November of 2020, Myles penned a letter to the community that said COVID had sidelined over 40 teachers.

“We are short substitute teachers and our ranks of counselors, school administrators, paraprofessionals and maintenance staff are all significantly compromised,” Myles said in the November letter.

His successor will also inherit one of the highest-paying jobs in the Panhandle. After 11 years, Myles pulled in a salary of $214,000 a year.

Feb. 7 was the deadline for applications. SBPS is set to announce the names and resumes of finalists next week after a special Board of Education meeting on Feb. 15. The board is set to interview the four finalists from Feb. 23 through Feb 26, although those dates could change based on the weather and board member availability.


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