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Finalists Announced for Next St. Joseph Superintendent

Dr. Rebecca Albrecht, Dr. William Cowling and Dr. Douglas Van Zyl are the three finalists running for the St. Joseph School District Superintendent position.

Posted: Jan 17, 2018 10:30 AM
Updated: Jan 18, 2018 11:31 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph School District announced the three finalists for superintendent Wednesday morning.

The three finalists are Dr. Rebecca Albrecht, Dr. William Cowling and Dr. Douglas Van Zyl.

Dr. Albrecht has been the superintendent at Maryville R-II for three years. Previously, she was superintendent of the Trenton School District for nine years.

Albrecht helped Trenton earn its first "Performance with Distinction" award from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She is actively involved in the community and a partner with higher education institutions. Albrecht is a native of Northwest Missouri and attended Northwest Missouri State.

She also has a master's degree from Southwest Missouri State University and her Specialist and doctorate degrees from William Woods University. She and her husband have three children.

Dr. Cowling has been the Assistant Superintendent of Management Services for the Blue Springs School District for the last 10 years and oversees ancillary operations and associated financial requirements.

Cowling was a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent over the last 25 years. Over the last 10 years, he has led multiple district improvement projects with associated public interest initiatives.

Additionally, Cowling has had a long career as an officer in the Army and National Guard including multiple tours overseas, spending time in Iraq helping to rebuild local communities.

He has a bacehlor of science degree from Central Missouri, a master of science degree from the University of Kansas and a doctorate from St. Louis University.

Cowling has roots in St. Joseph with family members and a family farm in the area. He has a wife and two children.

Dr. Van Zyl is in his eighth year as a superintendent in Fort Dodge, Iowa which is a district of approximately 4,000 students. He has helped increase student achievement, stabilized the budget and helped develop multiple partnerships between the school district and local business and civic organizations.

He recently helped the district pass a bond issue with more than a 70 percent approval rating.

Prior to Fort Dodge, Van Zyl was superintendent of Harrisonville, Mo. For three years. He has also served as an assistant superintendent, principal and teacher.

Van Zyl has a bachelor of science degree from Northwestern College, a Master of Science from Sam Houston State University and a doctorate from the University of Missouri at Columbia. Van Zyl and his wife have three children.

In a press release, Lori Prussman and Larry Koch stated that "the search has been a rigorous process that began with input on what the district is seeking in a new superintendent form hundreds of citizens and staff members through focus groups, public forums and an online survey. We were very pleased with the quality of applicants we received and are confident that any one of the three finalists would be an excellent leader for our school district and in our community."

All three candidates will participate in interviews with the Board of Education with interview committees later this month.

The interview committees are comprised of teachers, administrators, community stakeholders, parents and students. Each candidate will spend most of a day within the school district ending in a two-hour interview with the Board.

After the finalists have all been interviewed, the Board will select one candidate to hire and will begin negotiations around the new superintendent's contract.

No salary has been set and the appointment is pending salary and benefit negotiations with the selected candidate.

All candidates have indicated they plan to live in St. Joseph if appointed as the next superintendent. The Board plans to announce the name of the new superintendent at its February Board meeting.

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This week will be much cooler than last week for northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas. Wind chills Monday morning will be in the teens with the daytime high only getting into the 40s. Tuesday we will see a little bit of a warm up with highs in the mid 40's.
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