St. Joseph School District Announces New Superintendent

Board members and teachers say that Doug Van Zyl is the right man for the job.

Posted: Feb 1, 2018 10:15 AM
Updated: Feb 2, 2018 9:03 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph Board of Education formally announced the next superintendent Thursday morning.

"The Board was delighted with the candidates we had to select from and believe that Dr. Van Zyl is a perfect match - in background and experience - for St. Joseph," Board members Lori Prussman and Larry Koch said.

Doug Van Zyl has been the superintendent in Fort Dodge, Iowa for the last eight years, a district of approximately 4,000 students. The Board was impressed that during his tenure, Van Zyl has increased student achievement, stabilized the budget and developed many partnerships between the school district and local business and civic organizations.

According to a press release from the district, after a long process of public engagement, Van Zyl recently helped Fort Dodge pass a bond issue with more than 70 percent approval rating, one of the first bond issues to pass in many years.

"It seems to be the right fit for me and it feels like it's going to be the right fit for St. Joseph hopefully bringing me on board there," Van Zyl said. "The proof is going to be in my time there are we making the growth and changes we want to make. That's the ultimate goal."

Board members who made the choice say Van Zyl is the right man for the job and they say their work with the search firm School Exec Connect was integral. 

"He comes from a community that had some of the same issues we've had when he went there. And he seems to have, from all the information we've gathered, navigated that very well. We need someone here that understands the climate," St. Joseph Board of Education Martin Rucker said. 

Van Zyl will come to a school district where many say morale is low among teachers and staff. 

"I really do he will bring healing. I think he will make strides to connect to all facets and stakeholders: community, parents, students, faculty, absolutely. I'm looking forward to seeing him come in and roll up his sleeves and look for a new vision," Lori Witham, St. Joseph MSTA President said. 

The new superintendent was hired with a three-year contract with an annual salary of $210,000 the first two-year. Any future increase to his salary is linked to future salary increases awarded to St. Joseph teachers.

The Board granted Van Zyl's request to be provided family health insurance, which was provided in Fort Dodge. He will receive the benefits given all St. Joseph School District administrators along with a car allowance, which is a typical benefit given to superintendents in the region.

Van Zyl will begin his new role with the St. Joseph School District on July 1, 2018 but he plans to make a number of visits to the school district and the community during this spring.

Saint Joseph
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A cool forecast is in store for northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas this week. Fall-like weather will usher into the area Monday with highs mainly in the 60s and no hazardous weather expected through the week. The area could see its first frost Friday morning as the lows drop into the low-to-mid 30s.
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