TOPEKA (KSNT) — The search for a new superintendent is on at several area schools, but they might be in for a challenge.
“It’s been a difficult time in education,” said Topeka School Board President Patrick Woods.
Woods knows all too well the struggle recruiting and retaining teachers, and now even superintendents in the state.
“It’s been an early search season,” said Dr. Brian Jordan of the Kansas Association of School Boards.
Jordan helps school districts hire new superintendents.
“Our typical busy time for searches opening is mid to late November and we’re sitting here at mid-October and it’s already gearing up,” said Jordan.
Already this year the Superintendents of Emporia, Topeka Seaman and Topeka Public Schools have announced their plans to retire, and the Kansas Association of School Boards says there could still be more.
Jordan says last year the State of Kansas had a record number of superintendent changes, between 50 and 55.
This year, “I would anticipate there’s going to be more,” said Jordan.
He points to increased pressure on educators and an aging workforce.
Topeka Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford cited some of those pressures in her resignation letter, stating:
“I have prided myself in being an effective administrator, but the current political environment in Kansas makes it nearly impossible to lead a school district. The challenges are unlike any challenges I have experienced in my 35 year career. Never before have I experienced educators in Kansas reduced to so little and so undervalued by legislators and the governor.”
Now that she’s leaving, the district says they have some big shoes to fill.
“It’s always going to be difficult to fill Dr. Ford’s shoes. She was personable, she was on the ground, she was an extraordinary superintendent,” said Woods.
With all the other superintendent vacancies out there. Those districts are in for a challenge.
“There’s a finite number of people that want to be superintendents,” said Jordan.
Right now all three districts in Northeast Kansas are in the initial phase of gathering input from constituents and looking for qualified candidates.