Contract Negotiations Underway With Chadron School Supt Pick

CHADRON – The Chadron School Board has made its choice to succeed retiring Superintendent Dr Caroline Winchester, but we won’t know for a little while longer which of the 4 finalists it is.

Scribner-Snyder Supt Dr Ginger Meyer and Blue Hill Community Schools Supt Joel Ruybalid were interviewed Wednesday after Grand Island Freshman Academy Principal Dr Maggie Mintken and ESU 13 staff developer Dr Julie Downing of Chadron had been in on Tuesday.

Shortly after the end of Ruybalid’s evening interview, the board began its review and deliberations before ranking the 4 in priority order in case the top choice were to turn down the job.

Board President Tom Menke says he’s now negotiating with that top pick while also checking in with the Chadron district’s search consultant from the Nebraska Association of School Boards.

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Winchester’s retirement isn’t until the end of June, which will provide a longer than normal transition period for the new superintendent to essentially look over her shoulder periodically during the final months of the school year.

The interview process saw each candidate meet with various stakeholder groups and have an informal meal with the board just ahead of the formal board interview of the same 15 questions for each, a brief presentation of their choice, and about half an hour to ask questions of the board. KCSR/KBPY news attended all 4 and was the only member of the public at any of them.

Ginger Meyer, president-elect of the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association, told the board members she has a superior work ethic and loves to work. Although Scribner-Snyder is only about a third the size of the Chadron Public Schools, Meyer pointed to a large number of similarities.

Like Chadron, her district has received district-wide accreditation through AdvancEd and adopted strategic plan for continuous improvement with updated goals. Meyer also recounted a progression of events similar to Chadron when Winchester took over – a backlog of needed facility repairs and upgrades with few reserves.

As in Chadron, a bond issue was soundly defeated, a setback that was overcome by breaking the list into smaller projects that were funded out of the regular budget including a 6-classroom school addition funded through a lease-purchase plan.

Joel Ruybalid’s interview lasted the longest, nearly 2 full hours. He told the board he’s been happy in Blue Hill the past decade and had never applied for another position until now, but began to feel it may be time to move – adding that he and his wife have always liked western Nebraska.

Ruybalid described himself as a positive person who wants the best for the kids and isn’t afraid to ask for help because “none of us is as smart as all of us together.”He said he prioritizes teachers almost as highly and tries to seek out the education graduates identified by their professors as the best before larger and wealthier districts can make offers.

Asked what he saw at the #1 issue facing the Chadron Public Schools, Ruybalid said he didn’t know enough about the district and the community to be that specific. He said aging facilities is the most obvious issue, but might not be the most pressing so he would spend much of his first year watching and asking questions as he prioritized needs and developed action plans.

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