The Lawrence Public School District is still looking for a replacement for Superintendent Rick Doll, who announced his resignation in November. However the search has not been easy. There are fewer applicants than normal and there is also a great deal of competition for these candidates amongst the school districts in the state of Kansas.
“There are a lot of superintendents that are leaving their positions and there are a lot of school districts in this region having superintendent searches so it’s kind of a crowded market right now,” said Julie Boyle, Communications Director for Lawrence Public Schools.
This competition is due to the amount of vacancies in the state. There were 28 superintendents in Kansas that either resigned or retired in the past school year, and only eight of the positions have been filled. This trend isn’t a new one. Of the 286 school districts in the state, 162 have seen turnover at the superintendent position in the past five years. According to Dr. Ron Wimmer, Interim Superintendent for DeSoto Schools, this trend can be attributed to two factors: an older generation of superintendents getting to the retirement age, and cuts to school funding. He says that this generation of “baby boomers” are all coming to the age of retirement, and there are not currently enough qualified, young superintendents to fill their shoes.
As for the budget cuts, Wimmer says that the elimination of teaching and administrative positions is adding many more responsibilities to the job description, and in turn is stretching superintendents thin and wearing them down.