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Local

Hiawatha School District 426 to hire interim superintendent

First-year leader resigned March 10, citing differences in direction

KIRKLAND – A familiar face will lead Hiawatha School District 426 next school year while a permanent superintendent is sought.

Board members announced Monday that they intend to hire Bill Mattingly, 64, who served as interim superintendent the first semester of the 2015-16 school year. He said he’ll sign a contract in the coming days, once a question about it gets answered.

Wayne Reisen handled the superintendent duties the second semester in 2016, and the board hired Theodore “Chip” Hickman leading up to the current school year. His last day was March 10 because of what board President Ryan Block called “differences in beliefs, culture and direction.”

“His mentality was kind of the bigger districts,” Block said. “The culture he got into was different from what he thought it would be.

“We’re not Batavia. Hiawatha does not have that big-city mentality.”

Leading up to his hire on July 1, Hickman said the size of the district, which serves about 580 students, was a draw.

Principals handled the superintendent duties the week after Hickman’s departure, and the board approved Reisen for the role at its March 20 meeting.

Reisen was Sycamore School District 427’s superintendent for seven years until he retired in 2012. Mattingly has 23 total years’ experience as a superintendent. His most recent full-fledged stint was fives years in Oregon, before he retired in 2010.

Because Reisen and Mattingly are retired, they can’t work more than 100 total days in a school year. Block said Mattingly’s 100 days will be spread out throughout the school year, and he’ll be paid for each day he works. Most likely, Mattingly will work most of those 100 days in the first semester, when most of the heavy lifting is done.

“Usually, second semester is a lot of monitoring and testing, between PARCC and SAT,” Block said.

Block said no committees have been formed to find a new superintendent, but he said having Mattingly’s guidance the entire year will be invaluable. The goal is to have a permanent replacement entering the 2018-19 school year.

Block is on his way out as board president, having been elected Kirkland village president April 4. Tim Hall ran to keep his seat on the board, one of three that were open going into the election. Newcomer Ralph Ziegler won a seat, too, and with Block’s departure May 1, two seats will be open. He said a few residents expressed interest in the seats, so he’s confident they’ll get filled within the 60 days that boards are given to fill seats.

Block said that when he joined the board two years ago, many things were in disarray. He said he’s confident now that the new board will make the right hire after he’s gone.

“The board is very, very strong, and they’re going to do great things going forward,” Block said.

He said he hopes so.

“Education plays a big role in the community,” he said. “The school is the heart and soul of our town.”

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