The Jefferson City School District Board of Education announced Monday that Deputy Superintendent Bryan McGraw will be the new superintendent next school year.
The board identified three “highly-qualified candidates” to interview from 10 applicants, and all board members were present for those interviews, Board President Ken Enloe said. All candidates were asked the same interview questions. Enloe said McGraw drew a clear consensus and an “enthusiastic and unanimous vote.”
McGraw has served as JC’s Deputy Superintendent for the past year. Prior to that, he spent 11 years as superintendent at North Pocono School District in Pennsylvania. He has also served as a teacher, intermediate school assistant principal, acting elementary school principal, high school assistant principal, and principal and secondary education director.
McGraw has a bachelor’s degree from King’s College and a master’s degree from the University of Scranton, where he also received his Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility. McGraw will serve in a three-year, $220,000 contract.
The hire has been announced just within the board’s proposed timeline, labeled by Enloe as “aggressive.”
McGraw will take over for Larry Linthacum, whose hiring took 60 days, while this process took just 39.
That timeline included a job posting from Feb. 4 to Feb. 25, followed by an interview period and a hire date of March 14, the date of the school board meeting. Enloe said in February the board chose that timeline because its members felt it was important to move quickly to fit with the contract process. Many administrators finalize their contracts during the latter part of the year, and breaking one creates difficulties.
McGraw thanked members of the board, administration, staff, students and his family.
“We look forward to the future here,” McGraw said. “The future’s bright. Dr. Linthacum brought us stronger together, and we’re going to look to transition into district of champions and take it to what he envisioned and what we envisioned together, as a board, as a community, as a family.”
Also at the school board meeting, McGraw gave an update on COVID-19 numbers, which he said are the lowest they have been in more than a year, and on the district-wide staff survey.
Results across the board were slightly more negative than in the previous year, but McGraw said people should keep in mind the survey was distributed during the “height” of COVID-19 when teachers may have been feeling extra burdens from the district being short-staffed.
Questions were organized by subject category. Feedback and coaching saw a one-point drop (meaning answers were slightly more negative), JCPS communication saw a rise of six points, professional learning saw a five-point drop, school climate saw a seven-point drop, school leadership saw a five-point drop, staff-family relationships rose by one point, staff-leadership relationships are down two points, and roles and responsibility question results were neither positive nor negative.
McGraw said the results prompted meaningful conversations with building leadership and gave them ideas on what to improve.
Chief Financial Officer Shari LePage presented a preliminary budget for next year. One of the most notable projections was a drop of $4.5 million in state aid because of declining enrollment and attendance amid the pandemic.
LePage said there was a provision in statute that could fix the problem. It would allow school districts whose attendance had suffered as a result of a pandemic to determine apportionment based on the year prior to the pandemic, which would be the 2019-20 fiscal year. LePage said it was up to the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to decide on whether to allow use of that provision, but she felt confident it would since many districts were struggling with the same thing. DESE will decide by the end of March.
Without the provision, the budget would have a fund balance below the board’s desired 20 percent, but with the provision, the balance would be around 28 percent.
LePage also presented on projections for a recommended 3.2 percent increase in pay for teachers, and a 1.8 percent average increase for most other positions.