G-R ends superintendent sharing agreement, begins search for new leader
REINBECK — The Gladbrook-Reinbeck school district will be in need of a new superintendent following a board vote to end the sharing agreement with AGWSR in order to hire a full time chief administrator for next school year.
During the March 23 school board meeting held in Reinbeck, the board voted to terminate the 28E agreement with AGWSR to share superintendent Erik Smith, an agreement which had been in place since the 2020-21 school year.
G-R has shared a superintendent with another school district since 2016, including, previously, Eldora-New Providence and North Tama before AGWSR.
“Sharing a Superintendent does have significant cost savings for the district,” school board president Donovan Devore said. “However, there are sacrifices that everyone makes, to help fill the gaps when the Superintendent is at the other district. Usually those gaps are filled by other district team members. We as a board felt it was time to place more focus on the needs of Gladbrook-Reinbeck.”
Devore said late last year he and board vice president Matt Wyatt met with their AGWSR counterparts to discuss the sharing agreement, specifically G-R’s need for more superintendent hours.
“We [expressed] that we need to have a more than [half] time shared Superintendent,” Devore said. “That being with the needs of the students, staff, and community. If we did not have those needs, we would have kept the 28E agreement in place with AGWSR. They have been a great partner and we hope we can continue to look for ways to collaborate with them in the future on other endeavors. I really do want to thank them.”
Prior to G-R, Smith held the positions of both superintendent and high school principal at AGWSR. When contacted by the T-R, Smith, like Devore, said the needs of the G-R district have transcended a 50% FTE superintendent.
“There are an increasing number of needs that the GR district needs to address and having a superintendent in the district 50% of the time was becoming a barrier as the district was working to address the needs,” Smith said. “In the end, the board decided it was best to hire a full time superintendent as they work to address the needs over the next [three to five] years.”
Most recently, the district has been grappling with a failed $23.65 million bond referendum last September that would have invested heavily in the school buildings in Reinbeck, including upgrades to the HVAC system, the addition of an elevator at the junior high/high school, making every restroom and floor level handicap accessible, a gym expansion, classroom additions to the elementary school, secured entry in both buildings, and renovations and updates in both buildings.
The district’s buildings in Gladbrook were closed following the 2014-15 school year and demolished last summer and fall.
Through April 1, the district — with the help of Grundmeyer Leader Services — is seeking input from the community on the desired personal and professional characteristics of the next superintendent by way of an online survey in order to “ensure the new hire is a good fit for both the school district and communities.”
From that survey, Grundmeyer will produce a general report which will be shared with the school board.
The district’s timeline to hire a new superintendent is tight with the application period taking place March 24 through April 16. The board plans to review the candidate pool in closed session on April 20, screen potential candidates in closed session on April 24, and formally interview finalists on May 4.
In his email to the newspaper, board president Devore thanked Superintendent Smith — who was recently one of three finalists for the superintendent position at Independence Community School District — for his three years of work in the G-R district while also looking forward to hiring an individual full time.
“Being a shared superintendent you get pulled in a lot of different directions,” Devore said. “Erik has done a great job managing the dynamics of the AGWSR and GR districts for the past three years. Erik has a young large family, to which they are very active in AGWSR sports and clubs. Having that work-life balance for him is important as well, and we want to respect that… Shared Superintendents do put in long hours, and we have seen this with all that we have had in the past.”