What does it take to be the next USD 259 superintendent?

Wichita Public Schools (KSN File Photo)
Wichita Public Schools (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The search is on for a new superintendent to take over the state’s largest school district.

It will be a decision that will impact your child directly if your child is one of the more than 50,000 students in the Wichita Public Schools district.

“We are unlike any district in the state,” said Steve Wentz, the president of United Teachers of Wichita.

Tonight, USD 259 board members will take that first step with a meeting to map out their plan moving forward.

KSN has spoken to board members about the process but KSN’s Molly Brewer wanted to find out what qualities the people most affected by this decision would like to see.

“From the teachers’ union perspective, they need a superintendent who is a good listener, can delegate work, has leadership, is accountable and someone who is responsible,” Wentz said.

Most importantly, they need a superintendent who is an advocate for teachers, he added.

For one parent, it comes down to how the next superintendent will work with others.

“I would think a good quality of a leader is somebody who can work with people they need to work with because they’re going to have people to contend with on the school board, right? So we need somebody who can help bring their vision and the vision of the school board along in the least resistive way possible,” said Brent Duncan, a parent at Riverside Elementary School.

One thing both Wentz and Duncan agree on is that the way the next superintendent handles the state’s school budget crisis is vital to their success.

“If someone’s coming from outside the state, understanding what’s been going on here the last six years is going to be a real head turner,” Wentz said.

For Duncan, the next superintendent will need to have a strong voice when it comes to addressing the budget at the state level.

“As far as the budget goes, I think that the new superintendent and whatever school board we wind up with, needs to have the will and the vision to push back against the state legislators if necessary,” he said.

The district has some time to conduct the search, as John Allison, the current USD 259 superintendent, will remain in his position until July.

While that new leader will likely have a full plate of budget decisions to make, the budget could add a challenge to the search itself.

“I don’t know how big a challenge it is. We have heard numerous concerns from the board about monetary issues and attracting someone,” Wentz said.

KSN will continue to follow the search for a new USD 259 Superintendent. Check back with us for the latest updates.