?It was a no-brainer for me,? said the Hills?boro native and veteran USD 410 administrator. ?I didn?t know if I?d even have a shot. But I did. I took the interview and I?m very thankful to be that person. I?m looking forward to it.?
The USD 410 board voted 7-0 March 2 to offer a two-year contract to Heinrichs as the district?s next superintendent of schools, effective July 1. He will succeed Steve Noble, who has accepted the superintendency of the Topeka Seaman school district.
No stranger to Hillsboro and USD 410, Heinrichs is a 1979 graduate of Hillsboro High. He served as its high school principal for seven years, stepping down in 2015 to become director of college and career readiness at ESSDACK.
Prior to being HHS principal, Heinrichs was high school assistant principal and activities director for seven years and high school physical education teacher for five years.
Before that, Hein?richs was a physical education teacher for nine years at Minneapolis High School.
?It was an easy decision for me to come back because it?s a place I care about,? Heinrichs said. ?I care about all three communities of USD 410 (Hillsboro, Durham, Lehigh), the people?everything that it stands for.
?It was a chance to come back and fulfill my need to (use my) education, because I did pay for the education to be a superintendent.?
Heinrichs said he and wife Krista had decided they didn?t want to move from Hillsboro, so has been commuting to his job with ESSDACK.
?I wasn?t applying for any other (superintendent) jobs either,? he added. ?But there were some out there.?
The superintendent search process included two other finalists. James Wetig of Valley Center was interviewed Feb. 23 and Craig Marshall of McPher?son was interviewed Feb. 25.
Wetig was middle school activities director and assistant principal at USD 262 Valley Center since 2013. Previously, he served with the Valley Center district as intermedi?ate school principal for two years.
Prior to that, Wetig was Atchison County Elemen?tary School principal for three years, Ness City Junior High School activi?ties director, teacher and coach for one year, and a teacher and coach at Great Bend Middle School for four years.
Marshall has been serving as principal of Eisen?hower Elementary School in McPherson since 2006. Previously, he was Smith Center Elementary School principal for five years.
Heinrichs said he realizes that stepping into the superintendent?s role is a bit of a risk at a time when the future of state funding is uncertain.
?They say it?s a tough job to go into right now,? he agreed. ?Then I look at the opportunity. It might be a tough job, but if you look, there are so many new (superintendents) that it?s a good time to jump in. You won?t be the only new fish in the pond.?
Heinrichs said much of his job with ESSDACK was helping other school districts develop college and career readiness programs that USD 410 has developed in recent years.
?For lack of a better term, the stars are aligning,? he said. ?The state vision is really very close to what we?re doing at Hillsboro. If you look at K-12, and the emphasis on career and aspirations after you leave, I think it lines up with where we?re at.
?I see a lot of school districts that want to do what we are doing.?
He said his biggest concern is the future of state funding for public schools.
?Last week, we got the news that the state was $53 million down in one month,? he said. ?That?s the part that scares you. You know there?s certain services and activities you have to provide for your students and your communities, and how will it affect those??
Heinrichs said he expects to meet with outgoing superintendent Steve Noble in the coming weeks.
?There will be a transition time, I would assume,? he said. ?I know Steve and I are talking about a date for next week and we?ll start going over stuff. I would imagine somewhere down the line I?ll start going to board meetings, too.?
He added: ?I don?t feel I?m far out of the loop, but things have changed here, too. You have to keep evolving and keep moving. Some things have happened this year that I don?t know about.?
Heinrichs is looking forward to the challenge.
?I don?t think it?s going to be an easy job, but I think it?s going to be invigorating for learning,? he said.
?We don?t always like to sit in class and study, but we like to learn and improve ourselves. For me, this is a great opportunity to do a lot of learning.?