WFISD School Board Considers Hiring Next Superintendent

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Wichita Falls ISD trustees selected candidates to interview for superintendent after a lengthy closed session on Monday, Ann Dixon, educational consultant for WFISD superintendent research, said after the meeting.

Dixon said there were 22 candidates for superintendent, but one withdrew.

She said this was confidential research and she did not feel comfortable disclosing the number of candidates selected by the school board for interviews, which she will coordinate.

“It will happen over the next two weeks,” said Dixon, a former superintendent.

After:Rucker: WFISD School Board Not Informed of District’s Financial Mess

She said there will be a first round and a second round of interviews and then the school board will select a finalist, Dixon said.

A 21-day waiting period follows the selection of the finalist superintendent before the person can be hired.

Dixon said there was a good response to the district superintendent’s search.

“I had a lot of calls, a lot of interest in the position. It’s a big district compared to other districts in the state of Texas,” she said.

“He had a lot of appealing qualities,” Dixon said. “I always say in our industry, when you become a superintendent, the only way to get promoted is to get a bigger district.”

The special meeting began at 1 p.m. Monday, and within minutes the trustees began a nearly four-hour closed session to consider nominees for superintendent.

Trustees returned to open session around 5 p.m. and unanimously approved allowing law firm Walsh Gallegos and Dixon to proceed as discussed behind closed doors – without disclosing what exactly they were authorizing.

WFISD has engaged the law firm and Dixon to help fill the position left vacant by the departure of Superintendent Mike Kuhrt.

At first, Walsh Gallegos processes applications, performs background checks and credit checks, Dixon said.

At the end of the process, they complete the contract, do all the negotiations and transition the new superintendent into the district, she said.

Dixon’s role comes in the middle of the hiring process.

“I call each candidate, answer questions about the district, find out as much as I can about the candidate, the candidate, their experience, and then compile all the data,” she said.

Then, as she did on Monday, she presents the information to the board, Dixon said. The administrators chose the interviewees based on this data and also had the candidates’ application documents.

After:WFISD school board to consider downsizing issues, potential new superintendent in June

Whoever becomes the new district leader will face challenges ranging from declining enrollment to a budget shortfall to the construction of two new high schools that will open in the fall of 2024.

The district has lost approximately 800 students since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Enrollment projections were too high, forcing WFISD to repay millions of dollars in government funding and an estimated budget shortfall of $8-9 million.

After:WFISD announces that the search has begun for the next superintendent

The state is taking back $6.2 million from the district this year and next, school board chairman Mike Rucker said after a June 6 meeting.

Wichita Falls Independent School District Acting Superintendent Debbie Dipprey speaks during a school board meeting Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

WFISD has made cuts, including to staff, to fill the hole in the budget for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The district is building Wichita Falls Memorial High School and Wichita Falls Legacy High School amid rising costs and WFISD’s budget shortfall.

The new high schools will bring sweeping changes to the neighborhood.

Acting Superintendent Debbie Dipprey has held the position since April 5, the day after Kuhrt tendered her resignation to the school board following an outcry over her handling of staff cuts.

Kuhrt is still on payroll and expected to receive more than $100,000 in bonuses and other payments upon his release.

His resignation takes effect on June 30 or earlier if he finds work elsewhere.

After:Will former Superintendent Kuhrt receive a golden parachute from WFISD?

After:Did WFISD give Kuhrt a golden parachute? Click here for more information on the Separation Agreement

Mike Kuhrt, Wichita Falls ISD Superintendent

Trish Choate, business watch reporter for the Times Record News, covers education, courts, breaking news, politics and more. Contact Trish with topical advice at [email protected] Her Twitter account is @Trishapedia.

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