NORTH LIBERTY — Imagine building a high school staff from scratch.
The administration. The teachers. The cooks and custodians.
And the coaches.
“It’s kind of like putting together a fantasy team,” said Scott Kibby, principal at Iowa City Liberty.
Only, this is reality.
Liberty is less than five months from its grand opening, the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.
The staff is beginning to come together. Kibby has completed 47 hires, on the way to somewhere in the 60s.
“To be honest, I thought it would be smoother and easier,” Kibby said. “It’s been challenging, trying to get all the pieces to fit.
“We’re focusing on our teaching staff first. I think our priorities are correct.”
There has been no shortage of quality candidates. For the assistant-principal spot, for example, there were 121 applicants, a pool that will be trimmed to five finalists.
Kibby announced his first varsity coaching hire March 25. Jeff Kelley has been selected as the softball coach for the summer of 2018.
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Monday is interview day for the five finalists for the athletics-director position, and Kibby said he expects to announce a hire by Wednesday. He also said that the head volleyball coach “will be (announced) soon.”
Liberty will not fill a varsity football squad until fall of 2018, and Kibby said filling that position will wait for another year or so.
Only next year’s freshmen and sophomores that live inside the Liberty boundaries must attend the new school. Juniors and seniors have the option to attend Liberty or Iowa City West.
Kibby estimates 30 seniors, 90 juniors, 275 sophomores and 275 freshmen at Liberty in the fall.
That would mean an enrollment of 395 in grades 10-12 in 2017-18, which would make Liberty the 75th largest school in the state according to the state’s BEDS Documents, and place the Lightning in Class 3A for most boys’ sports, 4A for most girls’ sports.
Assuming continued class sizes at 275, Liberty’s BEDS enrollment would grow to 640 in 2018-19, 825 in 2019-20.
Liberty will compete as an independent in its first year, then — along with Western Dubuque — will join the Mississippi Valley Conference in 2018-19.
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