Photo by the Lincoln Journal Star
The North Platte Board of Education will interview Dr. Larry Ramaekers Thursday for interim school superintendent, following the abrupt resignation of Marty Bassett on July 3.Ramaekers is the former superintendent of the Aurora Public Schools. He retired from there in 2011.
In 2008, Ramaekers was one of four finalists for the position of state Commissioner of Education following the departure of Doug Christensen. That job eventually went to Roger Breed.
The board will interview Ramaekers in open session Thursday, beginning at 5 p.m. at the McKinley Education Center. They are likely to vote after the interview.
Bassett resigned six days after the North Platte school board voted 4-2 against his effort to cancel the contract of 31-year veteran teacher and coach Mark Woodhead.
School board president Kathy Phares said the board knew that Bassett might resign if the board didn’t vote to fire Woodhead.
“I didn’t really anticipate the resignation, but it was an outcome we thought was possible,” she told the Bulletin.
Bassett recently completed his second year as the North Platte superintendent of schools.
Phares said she tried to be somewhat proactive, given the possibility that Bassett might resign, so she contacted the Nebraska Association of School Boards to see if they might help find a temporary replacement if one were needed.
The NASB recommended Ramaekers.
Phares hopes the end of major personnel shakeups is in sight.
It’s been a busy time for the board, she said.
During the board's regular meeting Tuesday, former principal Denise DiGiovanni has hired as a teacher. DiGiovanni resigned a few weeks ago, just before she was to take over as principal at Jefferson Elementary. She did not give a reason for her departure.
Following the board's action, this fall DiGiovanni will be a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teacher at Adams Middle School.
Phares predicts the STEM job will be a good fit for DiGiovanni, who has been a teacher, principal and director of the district’s high ability learning program at various times during her 15 years in North Platte.
Phares said the Woodhead controversy has generally taken a toll on everyone involved.
“As (board member) Julie Nielsen said, there were no winners,” Phares said.
Sixth grade only
Phares said Bassett’s departure does not mean the end of plans to reconfigure Adams and Madison Middle Schools. If the plan works out, Madison would be a sixth-grade only school, a rarity.
Bassett supervised an eight-month-long investigation in 2013, trying to build consensus for the reconfiguration. In January, the board told him to go ahead and delve further into financial and staff considerations, and to keep them advised.
Bassett set up a committee of administrators, teachers and parents called the “Shaping the Future” committee.
The middle school principals have been putting some time aside this summer to work on the issue, Phares said.
Regardless, Phares said there is no change in plans to investigate further.
In January, she said, “We are going to get down to the nuts and bolts. I want to know the details (of reconfiguration.) I especially want to see that it is fiscally responsible.”
The board plans to decide the issue in January.