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Next Cedar Rapids schools leader Tawana Grover to start Monday
School board President David Tominsky welcomes Grover, saying, ‘There are big decisions that need to be made'
CEDAR RAPIDS — Tawana Grover, the next superintendent of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, will begin Monday as interim superintendent, the school board unanimously voted Monday.
Interim Superintendent Art Sathoff, who started his term in November, is stepping down three months before the end of his contract. Grover will begin her duties as superintendent, dropping the “interim” title, July 1.
“This provides valuable time to transition into the role to better understand the most immediate needs and lead (the Cedar Rapids Community School District) long into the successful future so ‘Every Learner is Future Ready,’” Grover said in a news release, quoting the district’s mission statement.
Grover said she will be doing a “listening tour” to meet staff, students, community members and business leaders to get to know the community and its needs in the coming months.
According to her interim contract, obtained Tuesday afternoon by The Gazette through a public records request, Grover’s contract is for 63 days of work. She will be paid $1,168 a day — about $73,584 in total — from April 3 to June 30.
The public records request was submitted by The Gazette on Friday. The Gazette was told the record could not be provided until approved by the school board Monday evening.
Grover’s contract for superintendent, which begins July 1, calls for a salary of $305,000 for the first year to be renegotiated for the second and third years of her contract, but not for less than the annual salary of the previous year.
”There are big decisions that need to be made, and Dr. Grover was available earlier than originally planned,“ school board President David Tominsky said in a news release. ”I want to thank Art Sathoff for serving as interim when we needed him the most. He served with grace and his leadership guided us through this transition.”
Grover, 47, was named the next superintendent of the school district in January, becoming its first female Black leader. She made history as the first Black superintendent in Nebraska and the first woman superintendent at Grand Island Public Schools and was unanimously appointed by the Cedar Rapids school board after a two-month search led by Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates.
Facilities issues facing the district
Grover is joining Cedar Rapids schools in the middle of an ongoing facilities master plan for its elementary schools.
Earlier this year, the school board approved the name of the third new elementary school to be built under this plan, Trailside Elementary School, opening in fall 2024. The school will replace Arthur and Garfield elementary schools.
The district also is exploring a potential $312 million plan — funded by a general obligation bond referendum — to improve its secondary schools. District officials have proposed reducing the number of middle schools from six to four — renovating, adding on or building new — and making improvements to the district’s four high schools over the next seven to 10 years.
Sathoff thanks schools for ‘opportunity to serve’
Sathoff was paid about $108,526 for his five months of work as interim superintendent from Nov. 4 to March 31. His initial contract called for a salary of $167,000, as well as benefits, through June 30.
His salary was paid in installments of $25,000 in November 2022, $25,000 in December 2022 and the remainder of the salary paid in equal installments throughout the remainder of his term. This would be about $19,508 a month.
“Thank you for the opportunity to serve the district during a challenging time of transition,” Sathoff, who retired last year as superintendent of the Indianola Community School District, said in a news release Monday.
“My five months here have given me an opportunity to see the many great things happening for students in the district as well as the challenges that are inherent in public education and large organizations. I really appreciate the many quality people I have had interactions with and the hard work they are doing on behalf of students.”
There are 32 schools in the Cedar Rapids Community School District serving about 15,700 students. The district’s minority enrollment is 40 percent. Also, 39 percent of students are economically disadvantaged, according to U.S. News & World Report. There are about 3,100 employees in the district.
Former Cedar Rapids schools Superintendent Noreen Bush, 51, died Oct. 23. She was diagnosed with cancer more than two years ago.
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