Nixa Public School hired an out-of-state education leader as the successor to longtime Superintendent Stephen Kleinsmith.
Gearl Loden, the six-year superintendent of Tupelo Public School District in Mississippi, is scheduled to start July 1. Officials announced the selection during an afternoon news conference today.
“After a nationwide search, we believe that Loden is the best superintendent to guide Nixa Public Schools over the next decade,” Nixa Public Schools Board of Education President Scott McDonald said in a news release. “Loden comes from a school district larger than Nixa and has faced some of the challenges that our school and state may encounter in the future.”
During his time in Tupelo, Loden led:
• the passage of a $44 million bond issue with 86 percent voter approval for facility upgrades and additions;
• the increase of the district’s reserve fund to $33.4 million from $13.5 million without raising taxes during a time of state funding cuts;
• the expansion of the district’s early childhood program;
• the implementation of science, technology, engineering and math programming;
• the improvement of the district’s state achievement ranking from 46th to a high of 16th over a five-year period; and
• the addition of Federal Emergency Management Agency safe rooms, secured entries and expanded background checks.
In 2015, Loden was named the Mississippi State Superintendent of the Year. He has his doctorate in education leadership from the University of Mississippi, according to the release.
“Nixa has a high level of academic excellence both locally, in the state and in the nation,” Loden said in the release. “It is an example of a community providing high levels of support for their teachers and staff and is a destination for families to bring their children.”
In Nixa, Loden succeeds the retiring Kleinsmith, who’s led the district for 18 years.
During Kleinsmith’s tenure, the school’s student population has nearly doubled to 6,300. In 2016, he led Nixa toward becoming the first school district in Christian County to go 1:1 with technology for all grades through the ConnectEd program. Under his watch, eight bond issues totaling $70.95 million have passed, according to Springfield Business Journal reporting. In October, Kleinsmith was honored as Superintendent of the Year by the Missouri Association of School Administrators.
“You cannot replace Kleinsmith, and we do not want to do so,” McDonald added in the release. “You can only build upon the successes that he and his team have achieved at Nixa.”
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