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A letter from the Board

As many of you know, the BOE appointed Ruth Weber late this spring to be the next superintendent/principal for USD 474.  We held a series of community planning meetings and were looking forward to developing a strategic plan with Mrs. Weber at the helm.  Mid-June, the Board received an unexpected resignation from Mrs. Weber.  Since taking the position, she became engaged and felt she could no longer provide the level of focus and commitment this district needed.  The Board had absolutely no idea what we were going to do, or where this would lead. This was going to be a disaster – or a miracle – we just didn’t know which. 

We received the resignation at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. Through Sue Givens, our consultant at KASB (Kansas Association of School Boards), we had a name and a number for a potential interim superintendent by 3 p.m. Monday.  By 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday (in just three days) we had our administrative positions filled.  I am pleased to announce that USD 474 has hired Dr. Mary Jo Taylor as an interim superintendent.  Dr. Taylor served 17 years as the superintendent for Stafford schools and most recently, she served as our Kansas State Senator for District #33. She is an advocate for public education, small rural schools, the economic growth of rural towns and highly experienced in running a district. She will be on site part-time and focus on superintendent functions and assisting the district in its planning for 2022-23 and beyond.  To say this is “big win” for the district is a serious understatement. Dr. Taylor will be supported by Tayla Ellis as the full-time Lead Teacher.  Mrs. Ellis has taught first grade in Haviland for several years and is working towards her Principal licensure, which she will have completed by Fall 2022.  Dr. Taylor will mentor Mrs. Ellis as she performs many of the duties typically assigned to a Principal.  Mrs. Ellis is a natural leader who is highly respected by her peers; we are fortunate to have such talent in-house.  These responsibilities will take her out of the classroom, and it is often difficult to find a quality first grade teacher this late in the year. By now it should come as no surprise when I tell you that by 8:00 a.m. that Friday morning, Joyce Bryan had agreed to teach first grade next year– a position she held at HGS for many years before her retirement.  We could not have dreamt for better!

Yes, we are feeling a miracle right now.  In this sequence of events, I went from depths of despair to a really ugly happy dance (just ask the people waiting outside the board room that Wednesday night) within three short days.  We are on a long journey that so far has offered more pain and uncertainty than it has offered joy and clarity, so I’m super grateful for the good days.  This journey is not over and we really still do not know where it will lead. I don’t know about you, but I’m prepared to be surprised.

Diane Thompson

BOE President, USD 474


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USD 474 - Haviland KS
400 N. Topeka
Box 243
Haviland, Kansas 67059
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Phone: 620-862-5256
Fax: 620-862-5260

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