Search begins for new superintendent

By Jim Troyer

ADAMS — The Southland School District will begin the search for a new superintendent immediately, and the board will advertise for candidates to fill a full-time job that will not be shared with another district.

Members made the decision at a Saturday morning meeting in Adams after accepting -– reluctantly -- Gary Kuphal’s letter of resignation. Kuphal has been superintendent for three years, guiding the district through a turbulent period of declining enrollment and precarious finances. During his tenure, he divided his time between Southland and LeRoy-Ostrander, on an 80/20 basis.

Kuphal will resign June 30 to become the superintendent of the Plainview-Elgin-Millville School District.


He recommended against seeking candidates for a shared position, arguing that it is unlikely that a person without experience, the least pricey candidates, could walk into the job and lead both districts.

"You should rethink the present arrangement," Kuphal said. "It would be difficult to attract the number and quality of candidates you want to a shared position." Likewise, if there is somebody out there with experience and looking to change for a better opportunity, "they likely would not be looking for a shared position."

"Can we afford our own superintendent?" Kuphal asked, and answered his own question: "Yes we can."

Three years ago the total of undesignated cash reserves was only $86,000, he noted. Because of cuts and a successful operating levy referendum, it’s at $400,000 today.

But more trouble lies ahead. Enrollment will drop again when the senior class graduates and again when the sophomore class graduates. That will mean a budget reduction. But two years from now a new superintendent will have the experience he will need to deal with the situation, Kuphal said.

Kuphal said he has already received three telephone calls from other superintendents about the opening. "And one of the first questions they asked was ‘are you sharing?’"

"Is Gary leaving because we shared? He says it is not," said board member Jack Kluehn.   

Kuphal agreed that he is not leaving because he was in a shared job. "We went into that arrangement because it was financially beneficial to both of us," he said.


Staying on their thrifty path, the board also voted to "go it alone" instead of hiring a search firm. That could save $5,000 to $6,000. Kuphal will head up the search effort himself, but will have not vote in the board’s decision.

LeRoy-Otrander School Board member Dave Lunning said the loss of Kuphal will be difficult for his district, but he was not surprised by Southland’s decision. "We agree it would limit the pool of applicants if advertised as a shared position."

"We have options of our own," he said, adding that the two districts will continue to look for ways to share administrative and teaching resources. "Working together is the way of the future," he said. The LeRoy-Ostrander School Board will meet this week.

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