Gary O'Malley selected as new Mount Vernon superintendent

Former Cedar Rapids Community School District deputy superintendent to take over July 1

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Gary O'Malley, deputy superintendent for the Cedar Rapids Community School District, will become the new superintendent of the Mount Vernon Community School District on Monday, July 1.

The news puts an end to an almost two-month search for a new head administrator in the district following the resignation of Superintendent Pam Ewell amid rumors that the school board would vote against renewing her contract. The search was extended in late May after the board's two finalists, Maquoketa Valley Community School District Superintendent Doug Tuetken and Lucas DeWitt, principal of three elementary school buildings in the Spencer Community School District, withdrew their candidacies. Both individuals cited "personal reasons."

Ewell is set to begin a new role as superintendent of the Van Buren Community School District on Monday, July 1, which is the start of the fiscal year for Iowa districts.

"I am ready, willing and able to start another challenge in my career," O'Malley said. "What I want to do is I want to build trust within the school district and among the community. If my first objective is to listen and learn, my second objective is to build trust and confidence in my leadership."

Five members of the Mount Vernon school board -- directors Tom Wieseler and John Cochrane were absent -- met in closed session during a special meeting regarding the superintendent search on Tuesday. Business Manager Matt Burke said board members have agreed to the terms of O'Malley's employment agreement, which include a $141,000 yearly salary, a $15,000 annual health benefit and a $10,000 yearly retirement annuity. The contract, which Burke has not yet prepared, is a three-year agreement.

The board voted unanimously to offer the position to O'Malley.

"We’re excited. He comes with a wealth of experience in curriculum and teaching. I think we've got a great future ahead of us and we’re looking forward to it," said Shannon Amundson, a member of the Mount Vernon school board. "He has a lot of ideas. I'm anxious to meet with him in July and see where he thinks there are strengths and weaknesses we can focus on."

O'Malley said he was humbled by the opportunity to assume his first superintendency but is sad to leave the Cedar Rapids district. He plans to complete some staffing-related duties and transition plans before he takes his new role in Mount Vernon. O'Malley said that discussions have taken place about plans to replace him in Cedar Rapids, but did not offer details.

O'Malley does not have a list of things he's planning to do on day one of his new job and also said that, despite the district's public drama, he isn't entering the role with an agenda.

"I think it would be wise for me to listen and learn from my new friends in Mount Vernon," he said.  "There’s no preconceived notions of what needs to be done. I’m not going in to fix anything."

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