K-M says goodbye to superintendent, welcomes interim
Members of the Kasson-Mantorville community said goodbye to outgoing Superintendent Mark Matuska and welcomed Incoming Superintendent Dr. David Thompson at Monday night’s School Board meeting. Monday was Matuska’s last day in the district and Thompson took over the superintendent’s role on Tuesday.
Thompson will serve as interim superintendent during the 2023-2024 school year as the district conducts a search for a new superintendent. Thompson has served as a teacher and administrator in a number of southern Minnesota schools most recently as superintendent of schools in Stewartville. Since retiring he has worked as a consultant helping districts hire new administrators through the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA).
In approving Thompson hiring as interim superintendent Board Member Angie Richards said that in meeting with him it “became clear Dr. Thompson is the right person. Dr. Thompson is willing and able to work with Kasson-Mantorville.”
Much of the meeting, however, gave community members a chance to reflect on Matuska’s 12 years as superintendent and thank him for his service to the district.
Matuska also had a chance to thank the Kasson-Mantorville community for the support they have given him and his family throughout his tenure as superintendent. The community has been “so overwhelmingly supportive,” he said. On a personal note, Matuska said that the move to Jackson County means he can stop by every morning to see his mom who recently moved into a care facility and also see his father who lives at home.
The ones he wanted to thank the most, he said, were the kids. The class of 2023, he said, was in first grade when he came to the district. He said he loved going to their athletic events, their music performances and all the other events because he loved to see the kids the most.
As the district moves forward, he said, “think about the kids more than anybody else.”
Mayors of both Kasson and Mantorville, Chuck Bradford and Chris McKern, were at the meeting to express their thanks to Matuska.
“Mark, thank you,” said McKern, “Kasson has a good partnership with the school.”
Earlier in the meeting, Board Chair Kent Harfmann said that he has had discussions with MSBA staff and they would be willing to go through learning sessions with board members on the hiring process for a superintendent. Harfmann said he favored looking to the MSBA for help in the process.
A second suggestion by the MSBA that they conduct a Mutual Expectations Work Session for the board did raise some discussion among board members. Harfmann said the MSBA said it recognized there was some stress and mistrust on the board resulting from stories circulating regarding ethics complaints against the superintendent and the board chair.
That resulted in an exchange between Board Member Brandon Madery and Board Member Kate Ryan, who said she had sent the email to the MSBA, but was not writing about formal complaints but rather concerns expressed to her by community members. Madery’s concerns were that the stories about ethics complaints were rumors, misinformation, and lies.
Ryan said she was not talking about the rumor of a complaint but wanted to ensure transparency in the process of hiring an interim superintendent. At the board meeting last week Harfmann appointed a committee consisting of board officers to work with the MSBA in selecting an interim superintendent. Ryan said she contacted the MSBA to see if that was the normal process.
There was no official action taken on the MSBA recommendation.
In other actions, the board accepted donations to the district from two individuals totaling $2,995. Pam Justice offered to donate a baritone horn and mouthpiece, valued at $1,795, and a clarinet valued at $400 to K-M Middle School students. Wally Bigelow offered to donate art supplies valued at $800 to K-M art classrooms.