CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s bittersweet, Superintendent Brad Buck said, to resign his position just as his vision for the Cedar Rapids Community School District feels as if it’s gained momentum.
He expects several district initiatives — introducing one-to-one technology, a hiring plan to boost diversity among staff, facilities work that would close some elementary schools and modernize others — to produce results soon, though not before he departs for a position at Waukee Community School District.
The Cedar Rapids School Board approved Buck’s resignation at a special meeting Friday.
“This place holds a special place in my heart, and I grew up here, and we have made really great progress,” Buck said. “And we have assembled an amazing leadership team.”
He trusts Deputy Superintendent Noreen Bush will continue the district’s current direction. The board approved Bush unanimously as the district’s interim superintendent, effective July until June 2020.
Board members and district administrators said they are sad to see Buck go.
“You’ve made a difference in this district, and we truly appreciate everything that you have done,” Board President Nancy Humbles said during the meeting, turning to face Buck, who led the 16,000-student district for four years. “I know you are leaving, but trust me, you will not be forgotten and the work will continue on.”
Waukee schools offered “exciting and different” opportunities for Buck, he said, as well as closer proximity to his family. He expects his older children to settle in the Des Moines area.
The Waukee school board Monday approved a three-year contract for Buck with a $260,000 annual salary.
During his tenure in Cedar Rapids, Buck has been a driving force behind a cultural shift within the district, Bush said.
“There’s a huge punctuation mark on culture,” Bush said. “ ... Our community is believing in what we’re doing now, and I can’t say that was true five years ago.”
Bush joined the district in 2017 and previously worked in College Community School District in Linn County.
She will lead the district as a superintendent search takes place. A timeline for the search has not yet been set.
Bush did not rule out applying for the permanent role.
“It’s a different set of muscles to stretch for me, and I’ll be stretching those muscles and learning it,” Bush said. “ ... I tackle any job the same way, and that is full force ahead, whatever I need to do to advocate for kids. So wherever the heart pulls, I would be honored to serve.”
Buck said he looks forward to seeing how Bush and the rest of his administrative team tweak and improve the work underway.
“I’m proud to be a part of the narrative, but it’s really about the people,” Buck said. “That’s why I’m confident it’s going to persist. That’s one of my standards of leadership — if the work persists beyond the leader, then that mattered.”
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