Board Hears Report from Superintendent Search Firm

Oct. 7, 2016 ~ More than 530 people attended focus groups and nearly 3,000 online surveys were completed regarding the search for a permanent superintendent in the Olathe School District. A representative of the search firm shared this information with Board of Education members during their regular meeting on Oct. 6.

Brenda Dietrich of Ray and Associates Inc. updated board members on one of the most important steps in finding a new superintendent: gathering input from staff, students and patrons about what they want to see in a district leader. Ray and Associates held focus groups and posted a survey to find out what people are looking for in the next superintendent.

The survey contained 33 qualities of a superintendent candidate and respondents were asked to select the 10 most important. When all input was combined, the top five characteristics were:

  • Inspires trust, self-confidence, and models high standards
  • Strong communicator; speaking, listening and writing
  • Willing to listen to input, but is a decision maker / Possesses excellent people skills and presents positive district image
  • Has leadership skills to respond to challenges of ethnic and cultural diversity
  • Strongly committed to "student first" philosophy in all decisions

Dietrich also shared a timeline for the superintendent search, which includes finalizing interview questions and procedures with the board on Nov. 16, and holding first-round interviews on Dec. 5-7. It is anticipated that second-round interviews would be Dec. 13.

21st Century Academies Update

Deputy Superintendent Alison Banikowski presented information about the rebranding and revitalization of the 21st Century Academies which were launched in the 2003-04 school year. Next year two more academies will begin when Olathe West High School opens, bringing the total to 15 programs.

For the 2017-18 school year, students will be able to apply to Animal Health Academy, BIOengineering Academy, Business Finance Academy, Civic Leadership Academy, Computer Science Academy, Design Academy, Distinguished Scholars Academy, e-Communication Academy, Engineering Academy, Future Educators Academy, Geosciences Academy, Green Tech Academy, Medical Professions Academy, Public Safety Academy, and Sports Medicine and Exercise Science Academy.

Banikowski told about the new logos for each program, use of social media and a new website to communicate with students and parents, an overview video and program cards to share valuable information, and the importance of partners in the overall success of these 15 academies.


  • This year's inductees into the Olathe Public Schools Alumni Association's Wall of Honor are James Kean, John P. St. John Memorial High School Class of 1956; Michael Knop, Olathe High School Class of 1966; Hugh Speer, Red Brick School Class of 1924; Distinguished Person of Honor Margaret "Peggy" Barron; and Distinguished Person of Honor Texanna Ollenberger. They were also recognized at a banquet on Oct. 4.
  • Lanie Fasulo, Deborah Chappell, Carol Affholder, Cristan Philipp, Kathy Easterly, Tom Salas and Heidi Schneider received the 2016 Whelan Kansas Leadership for Learning Award.
  • Chief Financial and Operations Officer John Hutchison received the 2016 Pinnacle of Excellence Award from the Association of School Business Officials International.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved a consent agenda of routine items including meeting minutes, reports, student trips, 21st Century Academy course revisions and curriculum, and board policy revisions.
  • Approved service and maintenance agreements for technology.
  • Granted a permanent drainage easement and permanent water quality/quantity drainage easement for Millcreek Center.
  • Granted a permanent water quality/quantity drainage easement for Westview Elementary School.
  • Accepted a bid for a parking lot addition at Westview.
  • Accepted the architectural/engineering proposal for the entry expansion and renovation project at Oregon Trail Middle School.
  • Accepted bids for the addition and renovation at Millcreek Center.
  • Entered into an agreement with Ad Astra Government Relations LLC to serve as legislative liaison for the district.
  • Approved the purchase of new audiology equipment to replace aging equipment.
  • Approved a contract with Bowling Proprietors of Olathe Lanes East and Mission Bowl of Olathe for the four high school bowling teams for the current school year.
  • Approved the superintendent search timeline as presented by Ray and Associates Inc.
  • Approved a promotional flier prepared by Ray and Associates Inc. regarding the superintendent search.
  • Received information on future action items including Head Start documents, Kansas Association of School Boards convention delegate assembly appointments, student trips, Middle School #10 trade bids, construction management proposals for summer projects, and an application to the state Board of Tax Appeals for Olathe West High School.
  • Received the Head Start director's monthly report and construction change orders in excess of $20,000.
  • Held an executive session to discuss personnel matters and consult with the district's attorney.

The complete agenda and supporting documents are available online at