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Norm Ridder had served SPS since 2005.
Norm Ridder had served SPS since 2005.

Year in Review: 7. Jungmann starts at SPS as Ridder seeks state job

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SPRINGFIELD, FEB. 24—After asking the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education not to renew his contract beyond June 30, former Superintendent Norm Ridder cleared the way for a new face in town.

Top finalist John Jungmann, the former superintendent at Liberty Public Schools, an 11,500-student district near Kansas City, toured SPS March 3 and was officially hired March 4.

Jungmann took over the role July 1, earning a compensation package valued at roughly $250,000.

“As the largest fully accredited school district in the state and the fifth largest employer in Springfield, this job brings with it a unique set of responsibilities and challenges. We are confident that Jungmann will not only meet those expectations, but exceed them,” said school board President Kris Callen, in March.

The SPS board hired superintendent search firm McPherson & Jacobson in November 2013 to find a successor for Ridder, who had served in the top post since 2005.

In December 2013, Ridder was passed over for jobs as commission of the Nebraska Board of Education and a similar position in Wyoming. On May 23, Ridder announced he would take over as interim superintendent at the 10,000-student Mehlville School District in St. Louis. As of Dec. 9, Ridder was named one of five candidates for commissioner of Missouri’s State Board of Education. The chosen candidate would succeed Chris Nicastro, who is retiring Dec. 31. Branson Superintendent Doug Hayter and Joplin Superintendent C.J. Huff also are in the running.

In July, Jungmann embarked on a three-month listening tour to review all functions of the district. Between Aug. 5 and Oct. 17, Jungmann held or participated in meetings with 21 groups ranging from CoxHealth leaders, Downtown Rotary, a public meeting at the Library Center and students at Weaver Elementary.

On Nov. 11, SPS released the superintendent’s Entry Plan Report, which centers on eight points – create a collection vision, create financial sustainability, ensure equity of opportunity, guarantee access to high-quality educators, eliminate barriers to 21st century tools, empower and engage partners, end isolation and foster regional collaboration and realign the organizational structure.

Broadly, Jungmann looks to drill down on expenses and operational practices to determine what works.

While 80 percent of the district’s $234 million operating budget goes to payroll for its 3,500 employees – and the average teacher salary ranked eighth out of nine districts examined statewide – per pupil expenditures reveal SPS spends 10 percent more per child than other comparable districts in the region.

Jungmann is leading the way to determine the programs and practices with high impacts on student performance.

“If you aren’t being effective and efficient with your current resources, you shouldn’t ask for more,” he said in November.

“Are there any ways to more effectively use our resources through shifting, or are we hitting maximum efficiency and the only other option is revenue creation? We have to understand where all of our money goes.”[[In-content Ad]]

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