Supt. David Engle
Dr. David Engle will leave his position as superintendent of the North Platte Public School District at the end of the school year, school board president Jim Paloucek said Monday. Engle is taking a job with the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J., where he will help develop new tools to evaluate teacher effectiveness, Paloucek said. Engle will leave North Platte in the early summer.
Engle took over as the head of the North Platte schools in July 2008.
Paloucek is disappointed that Engle is leaving but not surprised that he was recruited by an educational company.
“Given Dr. Engle’s knowledge, background, and national reputation in education circles, the board is not surprised that he was sought out by ETS," Paloucek said.
"We’d hoped that we would have David as our superintendent for many years into the future, but we understand his decision to accept the ETS position.”
Engle said he was pursued for job, receiving repeated phone calls. He visited the company headquarters in early January and was impressed with what he saw.
“I enjoy the North Platte community and the talented people I work with, so I was surprised when I was contacted about this position." he said. "The contact was initiated by the Boston Search Group, which showed a great deal of persistence in their recruitment effort."
Paloucek said the school board will immediately begin work on a transition plan so that the change to a new superintendent will be "as seamless as possible."
The board does not have a plan yet to begin hiring a replacement, administrative assistant Carol Allen said an emergency executive session to discuss personnel will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the McKinley Education Center.
Engle will be an integral part of the transition planning process as he completes the school year, Paloucek said.
"We are blessed with a wonderful teaching staff and an administrative team with incredible expertise around student learning," Paloucek said. "What we do know is that the district’s focus on instruction and what happens for our students in the classroom will not change, and our administrative leadership will reflect that emphasis. We will keep our eye on that ball to continue to meet our mission of student learning, achievement, and success.”
Engle has made numerous changes in the schools. He changed teacher meetings from a half-dozen all-day sessions to two hour weekly meetings on Wednesday afternoons. In the face of state aid cuts, he let half the teacher's aides in the district go. He also accepted the resignations/early retirements of 22 veteran teachers without replacing them. He transfered half of the principals to different schools and overhauled the high school counseling staff.
He also increased the number of computers in the hands of students and the amount of technology used by the staff.
In cooperation with cirriculum, instruction and assessment director Kate Orozco, he instituted changes in instructional methods in the classroom, fostering team teaching and group learning.
For those things, he took criticism, but that is not a factor in his decision to leave, he said.
"Not at all," he said. "That goes with the territory."
He is looking forward to finishing the school year.
"I'm excited. There's lots of good stuff going on and I'm looking forward to seeing it through," he said, mentioning cirriculum changes, hiring decisions, implementation of a new "data warehouse" record-keeping system and dealing with another round of state budget cuts.
"We have a board that is very focused on what they want the schools to achieve. That's an asset for the community," he said.
Engle's new job
Engle said his new job will be a leadership position, "one that is very compelling because the work will have such far-reaching consequences for the future of the teaching profession."
ETS is an international non-profit educational testing company that invented and owns, for example, the SAT, GRE, and PRAXIS exams. The company had $1 million in sales last year.
Engle will work with national, regional, and state education leaders over the next several years "to help build effective partnerships related to teacher licensure and new products for educational assessments."
"For me, the big attraction is the opportunity to have some influence at the national level," Engle told the Bulletin. "The marketplace around teacher effectiveness is evolving, given the Race to the Top program and a number of educational reforms."
Engle will make more money in the new job. He currently makes $160,000 a year and will receive closer to $200,000 in the new job, a salary increase in keeping with the range that superintendents make at Nebraska schools that are similar in size to North Platte.
As superintendent, he turned down a pay raise every year in North Platte. He said money was not a deciding factor in the new job.
Paloucek said "new products for education assessments are emerging during this current, very intense era of education reform in the U.S. and globally."
This article was updated Monday afternoon. - Editor