FSHS grad chosen as new USD 234 superintendent

Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Ted Hessong

After a nearly two-month process, the USD 234 Board of Education has chosen a Fort Scott native to lead the school district as its next superintendent.

During a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, board members voted unanimously to approve the hiring of Ted Hessong, currently superintendent of schools for Marais des Cygnes Valley USD 456, Melvern, to a 2-year contract starting July 1.

Hessong will replace current Superintendent Bob Beckham, who is retiring effective July 1. Hessong’s contract runs through the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

According to the official board notice, the purpose of the meeting was an executive session to “consider employment for the 2018-19 school year pursuant to the non-elected personnel exception under the Kansas Open Meetings Act,” and to consider employment.

After a 10-minute closed session, the board returned to open session and board member David Stewart motioned to recommend hiring Hessong as the district’s next superintendent.

According to the terms of the contract provided by the district, Hessong will earn an annual base salary of $111,000, plus $1,230 for travel expenses, a $480 cell phone allowance, and $5,483.52 in the board’s contribution to health insurance. Total value of the package is $118,193.52.

Beckham currently earns a $106,635.90 base salary, with the same benefits as part of a 2-year contract. Total value of Beckham’s current salary package is $113,829.42.

The board’s action came after board members met two days last week in executive session to consider employment for the 2018-19 school year. Meetings and interviews with Hessong and another superintendent candidate, David Jackson, director of operations for Andover USD 385, took place at Fort Scott Middle School.

Candidates also spent time in each district school building, talking to staff and other school officials during their visits. The interview process started with candidates talking to central office staff, followed by tours of all schools and talks with administrators of those buildings, a community luncheon with stakeholders in the district, then interviews by the board.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Board President Jamie Armstrong said the board and Hessong spent time “negotiating terms” between March 28 and Tuesday. Hessong accepted the position and had plans to notify the school board in his district.

“We took our community survey data and used that in creating (interview) questions,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said Hessong has a “distinct set of skills and abilities” which made him stand out as the candidate for the job. She said one example is Hessong’s “passion for kids and education.”

“And I think he understands what we want and aspire for our kids in Fort Scott,” she said. “And where we want to take our district as far as direction.”

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