Gausman reflects on 14 years as superintendent of Sioux City’s Public Schools
After 14 years as superintendent of the Sioux City Community School District, Dr. Paul Gausman will leave at the end of June to become the superintendent of the Lincoln, Nebraska, Public Schools.
The move is a homecoming for Gausman, who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and got his first teaching job in the Lincoln Public Schools.
KTIV’s Matt Breen sat down with Gausman to ask him how the district has changed over the last 14 years, and what he’ll miss the most.
If you ask, Paul Gausman will freely admit he didn’t plan to stay in Sioux City for 14 years. Suzi, my wife, and I, planned on being here about three or four years,” said Dr. Paul Gausman, Superintendent. But, Gausman says he stayed for more than a decade because of the people.
“I was so pleased to work with– not just the incredible teachers and staff members, bus drivers custodians in the school district food service– but the community as a whole,” Gausman said.
Early in his career, when he taught in the Sioux Falls area, and later led a rural South Dakota school district, Sioux City was the place Gausman would meet his family, who was living in Omaha at the time. “We would always meet in Sioux City when it was Labor Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July because then our family could be together,” said Gausman.
Gausman says he grew to love the community. “And, I thought, ‘Boy, if this position ever comes open as a superintendent, they probably wouldn’t hire me,” said Gausman. “But, I’m going to take a stab at it and see’.”
Gausman got the job. When he started, in the summer of 2008, the graduation rate was just over 70-percent. 14 years later? “Our graduation rate is at or above 90 percent,” said Gausman. “And I’m proud that we’ve got more work to do. But I credit the staff for that work by engaging students.” Gausman considers the jump in the graduation rate to be the district’s greatest accomplishment over the last 14 years.
He says he’s also proud of the improvements made to buildings in the district. That includes the construction of a new Bryant Elementary School where Breen did his interview with Gausman. “You know, here I am 14 years in. And I didn’t know the exact number of full-size schools that we built. But this represented construction project number 17. For me, Hunt is number 18 for me.” “Could the 18 projects that you mentioned have been done without the benefit of that penny sales tax?” asked Matt Breen. “Yeah, not a chance,” said Gausman. “Not even close.”
The district Gausman will join in July has two new high schools under construction to help accommodate some of the 43-thousand students and eight-thousand staff. And, Gausman recognizes the challenges ahead of him. “So, there there are a lot of things just on a daily basis to do to keep that district moving in the right direction,” said Gausman. “Very proud to become a part of their team.”
Still, Gausman knows what it means to leave the Sioux City Community School District after 14 years. “But it’s bittersweet because I absolutely loved being part of the Siouxland community and being the superintendent of schools in the Sioux City School District.”
Gausman’s last day on the job in Sioux City is June 30th. Gausman’s first day on the job in Lincoln is July 1st. Former Sergeant Bluff-Luton Superintendent Rod Earleywine has been named Sioux City’s “interim superintendent”.