Superintendent Search

A new superintendent is in the process of being chosen.


Abbey Manzanares, Copy Editor

The search for a new superintendent has started, and the school hopes to schedule interviews by Jan. 19.

Previous superintendent Dr. Martin Stessman announced his retirement on March 16, 2020, after being in the district for 15 years. Matt Hirsch took the role of interim superintendent for the 20-21 school year. The Board announced their intention of hiring a superintendent on Nov. 16. The school is now working with the Kansas Association of School Boards, KASB, to find one for the 21-22 school year.

“(KASB) have provided us with a resource book that lays everything out for us in phases,” USD450 Board member Rosa Cavazos said. “The phases include the announcement of the search and the timeline, preparing for the interviews, the interviews, and finally the negations and the hiring.”

A short survey was sent out on Nov. 30 regarding the desired characteristics of a new superintendent. The survey was available to all Shawnee Heights community members and the Board of Education, BOE, reviewed the results. 

“The purpose of the survey was just to get all the kind of stakeholders in the community including students, staff, parents, and other people in the community to develop a list of superintendent characteristics that we might want in the next superintendent,” Hirsch said

The BOE also orchestrated a focus group of twenty people that included students, teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, custodians, and parents. The focus groups discussed more in-depth about what they wanted in a superintendent.

“… those survey results and the focus group results went to the board and the board used those results to kind of develop their own list of characteristics they wanted for a superintendent,” Hirsch said.

Candidates completed their applications by Jan. 5 and the KASB will review them. The candidates that KASB feels match the characteristics that were asked for will be put on a list that is given to the BOE. They will receive the list of candidates on Jan. 11 and select the finalists on that same day. 

“When we introduce the finalists and they have an opportunity to speak to our community, I would suggest our patrons be available to meet them,” Cavazos said. “The meet and greet may be on zoom, on our YouTube channel, or in person, but any of the ways will be an opportunity for people to get to know those candidates.”

On Jan. 19 the BOE will start scheduling interviews with the finalists. They will then select the person who they feel will best fit within the Shawnee Heights community and be an extraordinary leader. 

“Once they select a person it’s a little process because we have to go through with them on contracts and different things,” Hirsch said. “And so it probably won’t be released to the public until about mid February. They’re hoping that by Valentine’s day we will be able to get an announcement on the new superintendent.”

The new superintendent will officially start in July when their contract starts. The hope is that the new hire will participate in different activities to get a feel for the community before their official start date. Hirsch will help them transition into their new role while also going back to his previous role as associate superintendent where he is in charge of human resources for the district.

“I am very pleased with how well the process has gone so far and in the job Matt Hirsch and the other administrators have done in this transition phase,” Board member Eric Deitcher said. “Trust us that we will work together in finding the best superintendent for Shawnee Heights.”

The district is trying to find someone who will be a strong collaborator and a strong communicator like the community wants. Community members need to support the Board’s decision and help when needed in order to make a smooth transition. Hirsch and the central building employees will also be doing their best to make the transition as smooth as possible. 

“All of (central building employees) have been around for a long time. We got good leadership in our buildings so it’s a good place to come into whether you have experience as a superintendent or you’re fairly new at it,” Hirsch said. “I think we’re here to support that and help lead through that and so it’s just important if we get a strong, good person that’s a leader. The rest will come.”