Ross shares overview of first week on the job

New superintendent joins the table at school board meeting

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Anne Blankenship Dr. Mandy Ross, center, talks with Webster City school board members Monday night during the board’s regular session. Ross, the new superintendent of schools, began her duties last week.

Dr. Mandy Ross, the new superintendent of Webster City Schools, gave an overview of her first week on the job during Monday night’s school board meeting.

Ross, who was hired in March to succeed Superintendent Mike Sherwood, began her duties on July 2. She was formerly the associate superintendent at Ames Community Schools.

Sherwood retired June 30 after serving the district for 14 years.

“One thing I believe firmly is when you start a new position — seek first to understand, then to be understood,” she said. “I believe listening is important.”

Ross said she was meeting with directors this week and had met with Sherwood at least four times since her hiring. She added that she had met with or planned to meet with all of the school board members.

One of the bigger tasks since her hire was the finding the replacement for Dr. Adam Zellmer, the former director of teaching and learning. Zellmer accepted a position as the superintendent of South Harden Schools. The board approved the hire of Erin Miller at the June 25 meeting. Miller comes to Webster City from Ames. She has a masters degree in English from the University of Northern Iowa and an administrative degree from Iowa State University.

In other business, the board reviewed work session and board presentation topics for the coming year. Ross suggested that the board take part in the same book study that the district’s administrators will be doing. Other work session topics include the reorganization of the district, literacy, bullying and harassment, school finance and the career ag academy. Board member Rich Stroner added that he would like to talk about the organization of J-term and how to improve it.

Board presentations will include information on the regional academy, a review of J-term next spring by its participants, the FFA program, music competitions, and the Lego teams.

A contract with the North Central Consortium, formerly known as Rabiner, was approved.

A 28E agreement with Northeast Hamilton for Ted Larson’s services as transportation director was approved. The agreement for the 2018-2019 school year would ensure continuity of service between Northeast Hamilton and Webster City Schools, Ross said. The agreement would apportion 20 percent of Larson’s contract to NEH. A similar agreement exists with Stratford Community School, also apportioning 20 percent of the contract.

The board also approved the early retirement policy with no changes from the previous year. That approval came as the board accepted the early retirement request for Dave Orton, director of building and grounds for the district. Ross said Orton had been with the district for 33 years and would retire in December.

Stroner asked if there was a succession plan for his Orton’s position. Ross said she would talk with Orton about the plan when the two meet later this week.

The next meeting of the board is set for Aug. 13 at the administration building.