Written by Don Ratzlaff Wednesday, 02 May 2007 08:32
Gordon Mohn announced last week that he will be stepping down as superintendent of Unified School District 410 at the conclusion of the contract year, June 30.
Mohn, 57, will be filing for retirement through the state’s KPERS program, but has accepted a full-time job for the coming school year as director of the special-education program for USD 418-McPherson.
The board received Mohn’s announcement at a special meeting Tuesday, April 24.
“In most people’s mind, retiring means no longer working, but I’ll continue to work just like I always have,” Mohn said.
The job with McPherson piqued his interest, he said, because of the nature of the work, plus his interest in pursuing a different career avenue.
“It’s a little different than what I’ve done before,” he said. “I can be an advocate for children, an advocate for kids with disabilities.
“(McPherson is) interested, like we are, in trying to blur the lines between special-ed service and regular-ed service, and just service children in need rather than children in certain categories.
Mohn said he knew he would need to make a change in the relative near future.
“I think the timing was right for (wife) Vicky and me to look for one more challenge,” he said. “We set some parameters as far as where we wanted to live and the kinds of community we wanted to live in.
“In my opinion, McPherson is a little larger, but in a lot of ways is similar to Hillsboro. It’s a place where we can do a good job and feel comfortable.”
A Hillsboro native, Mohn came back to his hometown when he was hired as high school principal for the 1989-90 academic year.
Three years later, he was named superintendent. When he steps down, Mohn will have completed 15 years in that role.
“We’re happy for Gordon,” said Rod Koons, board of education president. “It’s a nice career move for him. There comes a time in a person’s career—not that their effectiveness is diminished where they’re at—but there’s a new thing they’d like to try or new opportunities they’d like to take.
“After you get to a certain point in your life, you don’t get those opportunities anymore,” Koons said.
“It’s also an opportunity for our district to grow and seek out new individuals in leadership positions and continue to move forward,” he added. “We’ve looked at it as a positive opportunity that we can grow from.”
Koons said the board will be seeking to hire an interim superintendent for the 2007-08 school year because it’s too late in the year to complete a full search for a permanent successor.
“Most superintendents are under contract through June, so you’ve got this June 30/July 1 cut-off date,” he said. “We feel our applicant pool will be a lot stronger, as far as getting more candidates without having to make a rush decision.”
Koons said he’s not concerned about finding a quality candidate for a one-year interim assignment, or one for a permanent replacement.
“A lot of retired superintendents do that for a year, and then we could put out applications in October or November and look to have the position filled ready for the (2008-09) school year,” Koons said.
The board will spearhead the search for an interim superintendent, but Koons said it will ask for assistance from the Kansas Association of School Board in conducting the search for the permanent successor.
“They provide some leadership and guidelines as far as screening applicants and putting together a committee to do that for us, so that our job turns into interviewing three or four final candidates,” he said.
Both Koons and Mohn said they believe the transition in leadership should not affect the outcome of the district’s $6.625 bond issue election June 5.
“We’ve taking the approach with the bond election that we will present the information, and let the voters decided,” Mohn said. “If it’s worth doing, it ought to sell itself.
“That ought to take me out of that equation,” he added. “I’m still enthusiastic about it, I can still go and talk about it. But if I was going to be the reason that anybody was going to vote for or against that bond election, then they didn’t vote for or against it for the right reason.”
Added Koons: “Nobody likes to lose quality employees. We’ve been fortunate to have Gordon as our superintendent the past 15 years. We need to be thankful for that.
“We also have to understand that our district is more than just Gordon Mohn—it’s all the people who work in our district. We’re losing one employee, but we still have 60 or 80 that are still here. That’s how it is.”