School board votes, approves Ron Wilson as new superintendent


Courtesy Photo

After the USD 489 School Board Meeting on Feb. 11, Ron Wilson is approved as the new superintendent.

After a board meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, former Superintendent of USD 489, John Thissen, has been replaced by Ron Wilson, effective July 1, 2019.

Weeks of searching for candidates narrowed candidates down to four – Jamie Wetig, Michael Bower, Keith Hall and the aforementioned Ron Wilson.

The two-year contract extended to Wilson is pending approval by the board.

The search for a new superintendent began after Thissen resigned in Oct. 2018.

“Two weeks after I started this job, I was found out to have Hodgkins cancer,” Thissen said. “I was treated in the first six months I was here, doing chemotherapy and radiation.”

At the time, Thissen said, his wife was looking for a job in the area and had been living apart.

Thissen’s parents and parents-in-law had all had heart surgery, and the birth of his soon fourth grandchild discouraged his decision to stay in Hays.

“My decision was based on the fact that I love my family and need to be with them,” Thissen said. “You never know when things could go south.”

The process of interviewing candidates went through the school board, and the Vice-Superintendent, Shanna Dinkel.

The Board of Education hired an outside firm, Kansas Association of Schoolboards (KASB), to review the options. The firm was paid to screen applicants, help the board in the process, and conduct interviews.

After Jan. 28, interviews began for the applicants.

“The board will make the final decision,” Dinkel said. “We are trying to sell our district to them as much as they are trying to sell themselves to us.”

The qualities sought for in a superintendent include successful past experiences leading a district, communication skills and community investment.

“Being the Assistant Superintendent, I am hopeful that (Wilson) really has a team aspect of things,” Dinkel said. “We have strong district administration, so collaboration is important.

“We want someone who cares about the district and wants to be here because they realize that we are a strong district and wants to keep it in place.”

School Board President Mandy Fox began work on the search when Thissen gave his resignation.

“I just hope that (Wilson) is a good fit for our community and our district and would like to stay longer than two years,” Fox said. “During my time on the board, this is the second search we have had to do – in three years.”