Board hires from within for top post
The Tonganoxie School Board didn’t look far for its next superintendent.
At a special meeting Monday, the school board, by a 7-0 vote, approved hiring assistant superintendent Kyle Hayden as the district’s new superintendent.
Monday’s special meeting initially was called to discuss whether to hire the Kansas Association of School Boards to conduct a search for a new superintendent.
The board instead bypassed the process and hired Hayden, who originally was hired as assistant superintendent in June 2008.
Hayden said after Monday’s meeting he was surprised by the board’s decision. He said he had hoped to be considered as a candidate as the board searched for a new superintendent, but was not expecting Monday’s decision.
“When I initially was hired, I looked at the assistant superintendency as a great opportunity and I know the district has been through some pretty challenging situations here over the course of the last month or so,” Hayden said. “But this to me is still the place that I’m meant to be. And this tonight actually confirmed that to me.”
Hayden replaces Richard Erickson, who has been the district’s top administrator since 1996. In January, the board voted not to renew his contract, but will move him to a part-time position — special projects manager — when his current contract ends June 30. On July 1, he will start his part-time position and assist Hayden with projects Hayden assigns. Erickson will then retire in the summer of 2010.
Diane Truesdell, school board president, discussed the selection in a written statement.
“We were extremely fortunate to have an outstanding qualified candidate right here in our district,” Truesdell said. “Mr. Hayden came to our district and impressed the administrators, staff and board with his knowledge, abilities and his genuine caring for USD 464 and the education of our students.
“I am excited about the possibilities as Mr. Hayden builds on the strong foundation that is USD 464. We appreciate Mr. Hayden working with the board as we face a grim budget outlook for the next year.”
Truesdell also said the board will not fill the assistant superintendent position when Hayden becomes superintendent for 2009-10, which she said would save the district $54,000. The district also won’t be spending $4,000 plus other expenses by hiring KASB for a superintendent search.
Hayden, 37, is a 1990 Sabetha High School graduate. He later graduated from Tabor College in Hillsboro with a teaching degree and earned a master’s degree in education administration from Emporia State University.
Although his new contract wasn’t set in stone, Hayden said the new contract would be finalized at the February board meeting. His current salary is $90,000 annually.
Hayden’s wife, Katy, taught for six years as a high school social studies teacher. She has been a stay-at-home mother since the birth of their first child, Meron, who will turn 7 later this month. She is a first-grader at Tonganoxie Elementary School. They also have a son, Gage, who is 5, and another daughter, Brette, who is 2.
Before coming to Tonganoxie, Hayden was superintendent at Ellis, which is near Hays.
Hayden originally attended Fort Hays State University on a football scholarship, but “multiple injuries later,” he said he had friends convince him he could continue as a college athlete at Tabor College in Hillsboro, where he played baseball.
“It worked out and it was one of the best things I ever did,” Hayden said.
Asked what his hobbies were, Hayden mentioned recreational things, such as attending sporting events, especially Tonganoxie athletics.
“I love coming to school activities,” he said.
He said that’s always been in his blood, as his mother worked for the Sabetha school district while he was growing up.
“We attended sporting events and other school activities for as long as I can remember,” he said.
No. 1 on his list of things to do, of course, is “spending time with my family,” Hayden said.
As for his new role as the district’s leader, Hayden said he’s prepared for the new opportunity.
“If you look at the last year and a half hiring of new building leadership, you’ve seen some remarkable improvements, especially in student achievement,” Hayden said. “My relationship with the entire administrative team and the central office staff has been extremely positive and I’m really looking forward to continuing with them to meet the district’s goals and truly make Tonganoxie a destination point for people.
“I want people to look at the Tonganoxie community and school district as being the place to be.”
At the start of Monday’s meeting, the board met in executive session for 10 minutes to discuss student privacy matters. Jeff Adams, the district’s school resource officer, joined the board during that time.
The board met for another 40 minutes to discuss personnel.
Also during the meeting, Keven Ward, who works for Trane, discussed the district’s investment grade energy audit report. During the discussion, Ward discussed information about making the schools more energy efficient. Installing artificial turf at Beatty Field also was discussed at length. For more on this story, look in upcoming editions of The Mirror.