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No longer interim superintendent, Schneckloth prepared to tackle what's ahead for Davenport schools
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No longer interim superintendent, Schneckloth prepared to tackle what's ahead for Davenport schools

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The Davenport Community School District’s new superintendent has a lot on his plate.

The district currently faces challenges including planning the potential next phase of its COVID-19 pandemic response, as well as working with the Iowa State Board of Education to address a number of citations the district received from the state’s department of education. Those citations concern a number of issues including providing equitable education for Black students.

T.J. Schneckloth was hired by the Davenport Community School District board on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 as the district superintendent

Monday night, the district’s school board hired its interim superintendent, TJ Schneckloth, to replace its contracted superintendent, Robert Kobylski, who retired in December.

“It’s an absolute honor and privilege to be the superintendent of the Davenport Community School District,” Schneckloth said Wednesday.

His goals as superintendent include maintaining the district’s programs.

“There are things that are excellent in our district, and it is very important that we maintain those things that are excellent,” he said.

The Davenport schools’ career and technical education programs and creative arts academies are leaders in the state, Schneckloth said. A student can attend a Davenport community school and get an associate degree or a certified nursing assistant certificate.

Also on the to-do list is continuing to correct the issues that led to the state citations.

Schneckloth, a member of the district staff, has been serving in an interim capacity since October. He was appointed by the Iowa State Board of Education as part of the ongoing effort to address the noncompliance issues.

Kobylski was not fired by the state when Schneckloth was put in charge. He continued with the Davenport schools afterward but was working off site under the direction of the interim leadership until his retirement.

“That will happen, and that is an absolute next step for us,” Schneckloth said of fixing the noncompliance issues Wednesday.

The district’s progress on those issues will be among the topics addressed Thursday at a state education board meeting.

Asked for a preview of that report, Schneckloth focused on work the district’s school board has been doing and efforts to improve the Davenport schools’ violence prevention and crisis response.

“We’ve been working on our school board professional development and goals there,” he said. “We are moving along and accomplishing a lot of the goals that are on that.”

That includes creating a finance committee that makes regular reports to the rest of the school board, he said.

“Those are the types of systems that we’re putting in place that will outlast anybody that is on the school board and administration,” he said. “Those are the kinds of things that are going to ensure that we stay financially stable in the future.”

The crisis response and violence prevention efforts have included establishing a consensus among district staff on the importance of the issue being a priority for the district. It also includes uniform training for staff that will give them a consistent set of actions to take should violence such as a fight occur at a building.

As of Wednesday, the plan was being rolled out to district buildings and their faculty and staff, Schneckloth said. The training includes what to do before, during and after an incident that occurs within the district’s jurisdiction.

Schneckloth said understanding those steps would improve safety in the district, and the crisis response and violence prevention was a step in the district’s process of addressing the disproportionality (equitable education) citations.

“When we talk about disproportionality, the first thing to do is — do our students feel safe, do our staff feel safe?” he said. “So establishing that allows us to be able to move forward and get to some of the other work a little bit quicker.”

It will also be addressed in the district’s early literacy program and by developing support systems for students, he said.

“That really heavy lift of that work is coming,” he said.

Schneckloth said he was comfortable with the progress on those two aspects of the district’s citation work.

District staff meet regularly with state officials, he said. The group discusses the district’s progress and if an adjustment to its efforts is needed, then that occurs.

He said that’s also what he expected at Thursday’s state board meeting.

“We are going to share exactly what we have accomplished, and we’re going to get feedback from the state board of education and we’re going to move forward.”

The steps the state is requiring the Davenport schools to take will benefit the district’s students and community, he said.

The district staff is also beginning to discuss what the Davenport schools’ future vision will be. Where is the district at and where will it be going?

“That’s what we are really excited to talk about next,” he said.

This goal-setting is part of the district’s work with state officials. It also includes plans to get input from the community, finding out what it would like to see from the district moving forward.

“A part of what we’re working with the department of ed (education)," Schneckloth said, "is to set that vision for the future collaboratively with our community here."

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