Thursday, August 28, 2014

West Franklin taps new school superintendent

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 2/3/2014

POMONA — A new superintendent has been chosen for the West Franklin school district.

After three candidates visited the district, toured its facilities, participated in candidate-community forums and interviewed with members of the West Franklin school board, board members officially offered Jerry Turner the superintendent position Monday,  which he accepted, Jackie Robbins, board president, said.

POMONA — A new superintendent has been chosen for the West Franklin school district.

After three candidates visited the district, toured its facilities, participated in candidate-community forums and interviewed with members of the West Franklin school board, board members officially offered Jerry Turner the superintendent position Monday,  which he accepted, Jackie Robbins, board president, said.

Turner now is the high school principal and superintendent at Crest School District in Colony, Robbins said, and seemed interested in reuniting the district after its failed bond issue.

“I think his overall personality is one thing,” she said. “He seems to be an outgoing person and he showed a lot of energy in the area of wanting to help us reunite our district to smooth any of the hard feelings we currently have in the district.”  

Four superintendent candidates initially were chosen for school board and community interviews, but the list was narrowed to three after one candidate accepted a job elsewhere, school officials said.

Turner has been in a superintendent position for 10 or 11 years, he said, serving most of his educational career in Baileyville, Kan., at the B&B school district where he experienced a school consolidation.

Having gone through a school consolidation process himself, Turner said, he’s used to working in a district with multiple communities, like West Franklin, and looks forward to getting to know the communities that make up the school district.

“I look at my job as someone who is going to sit down and be a visionary of what the future may bring in an academic sense,” Turner told West Franklin patrons Wednesday evening during the candidate-community forum. “Part of my job is to be a promoter ... somebody that goes out and promotes USD 287.”

Serving in smaller school districts than West Franklin forced him to wear different hats, Robbins said, something the board found important for the position.

“He has a lot of experience not only as a superintendent, but also in transportation, food service,” Robbins said. “He’s done a lot of different things and will be knowledgeable in that area as well as the superintendent area with the budget and etc., but also with the other areas we have in the school district.”

Turner’s interest in getting to know the patrons of the school district was another trait Robbins said the board liked.

“He’s somebody that’s easy to get to know — I felt like you could just talk to him,” she said. “I think he’ll be out there in the community. He’s talking about coming up and going to some games and functions going on, like the Appanoose chili supper so he can start meeting people, and I think that’s very important to have your image out there and to get to know the people and understand where they’re coming from.”

Turner grew up on a farm in Overbrook, he said, and now lives in the Overbrook area. He graduated high school from Santa Fe Trail before getting his undergraduate degree from Doane College in Crete, Neb. He received his master’s degree from Benedictine College in Atchison, as well as receiving his superintendent endorsement from Fort Hays State University.

The tenured employees in the district are what drew Turner to apply for the position, he said.

“I do my research and you have teachers that have been here for 20 or 30 years, and some that have left and came back,” he told West Franklin patrons Wednesday night. “I’m close to home. I grew up in Overbrook; that’s right next door. My in-laws live in Carbondale and my wife helps them out quite a bit.”

School financing has been a hot topic in the current legislative session and with school funding dwindling, Turner said, it’s about being responsible with the revenue. A school has to avoid negligent spending, he said.

“You do the best with what you have,” he said. “I get amazed with what teachers can do consistently because they don’t always get what they need to help the students, and we’re asking more and more of them as funding goes down and they keep giving and giving and test scores have risen the past few years.”

If or when it comes time to make cuts in a budget, Turner said he has a track record of making tough decisions, while keeping jobs.

“I was very proud of the fact we cut $1 million out of a $2 million budget,” Turner said, “and the goal was not to send anyone home, and we did it.”

Three candidates were interviewed for the superintendent position, but the board thought Turner was the best fit, Robbins said.

“I think they were all three very good candidates,” she said. “It was the first two that were very difficult to go between. We just felt Mr. Turner was the right fit at this time for our district.”

Turner is expected to begin his position as West Franklin superintendent July 1.

Two other candidates were interviewed for the position and took part in the candidate-community forums.

 

Roger Stumpf

Roger Stumpf is the superintendent at Western Plains in Ransom, Kan., he said, just east of Hays. He also is the high school principal, the kindergarten through fifth-grade principal, boys basketball head coach, physics teacher and even a bus driver, he said.

“I teach during the day as well, and whatever else needs to be done,” Stumpf said. “I’ve been out [at Western Plains] for four years and before that I was at Onaga and Mission Valley as well.”

His familiarity with the region and a promise to one of his daughters is what interested him to apply for the superintendent position at West Franklin, he said.

“We have a daughter who’s graduating this year so we promised her she’d get to go to one high school and she’s graduating and we’re looking to see where else we could fit,” he said. “I have connections to eastern Kansas. I like this area, and I like a challenge.”

Experience teaching in a wide variety of sizes of schools is one strength Stumpf said he would bring to the table.

“I taught at Topeka High School for five years and three out of the five years, we were the largest school in the state,” he said. “Right now, I’m in the 10th smallest district in the entire state. I’ve been in every classification but 5A. I have taught middle school, high school, science, social studies, head coached two different sports, scholars bowl.”

Knowing every student is one of his favorite things about Western Plains, Stumpf said, and if chosen as the West Franklin superintendent, he said he planned to be visible and known to not only students, but also community members.

“My job is to get out there so people can meet me on even terms,” he said. “You make yourself visible and known so if something does come up, [students or staff] knows you to a degree or enough that they’ll be willing to talk to you.”

Dr. Daniel Slack

Dr. Daniel Slack is a retired superintendent and most recently served as the superintendent for East Carter County R-II School District in Ellisnore, Mo., from 2008 to 2012, school officials said.

He was in a superintendent position for 10 years, spending time as the superintendent at Cainesville R-I School District in Cainesville, Mo., as well as the superintendent at Climax Springs R-IV School District in Climax Springs, Mo., school officials said.

Slack has his bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University, his master’s degree from Missouri State University and his doctorate degree from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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