(FORT DODGE, Iowa) The search for the next St. Joseph School District superintendent continues with three candidates facing the final interview process including current Fort Dodge superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl.
Fort Dodge currently has a student population of about 4,000 with six schools in the district and while a bit smaller than the St. Joseph School District, however both have faced many of the same issues.
When Van Zyl took over as superintendent in Fort Dodge, he had to make cuts in order to balance a school district budget while having to consolidate a couple of schools.
"We kind of struggled with trust and knowing what was going on in the school district," Van Zyl said. "When you're making some negative decisions that impact families that creates a negative vibe and atmosphere."
Since he has experience in mending fences and bringing calm to a district might be why St. Joseph board members are interested in him as a candidate.
Van Zyl also has administrative experience in the Houston metro area as well as Harrisonville and Independence school districts.
"He doesn't say things he doesn't mean and he doesn't say things that he doesn't do," Fort Dodge Board of Education President Stuart Cochrane said. "Right away you don't have the suspicion from somebody who says one thing and does another."
Van Zyl knows what he is getting into if he selected as the next St. Joseph superintendent and he says he respects the teachers that have been on the frontlines during the districts tough times by staying focused on educating kids.
"You have to pat them on the back," Van Zyl said. "Obviously they've persevered and have gone through a lot struggles and challenges. yet, kids are still achieving and performing in and out of the classroom and being successful."