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Gustafson says USD 489 'non-managed'

11/18/2013

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The organization chart, work-session format, budgets and incentives were among the topics at the Hays USD 489 Board of Education retreat Saturday.

Interim Superintendent Dean Katt, interim curriculum director Shanna Dinkel, business manager Tracy Kaiser, board clerk Cheryl Shubert and consultant Randy Gustafson also attended.

Gustafson was hired in July at a cost of $125 per hour, not to exceed 500 hours, to help the district find ways to improve efficiency. His hiring came shortly after former Superintendent Will Roth was asked by the board to retire earlier than previously announced, and former Deputy Superintendent Richard Cain announced his retirement Sept. 1.

Gustafson's recommendations sparked the meeting's discussion.

"This was a review and not an investigation," he said.

Gustafson looked at the budget, audits, district handbooks, policies and state statutes. He met with board members, administrators, central office staff and some community members.

Gustafson "concluded that with the failure to adopt and implement common management and organizational standards and practices, USD 489 has been mismanaged over a number of years, perhaps decades. Maybe a better term would be non-managed."

If his recommendations, such as hiring a business manager with no education experience, are adopted, it won't be business as usual for the district.

Gustafson said he made the business manager recommendation "to help break the silence."

Other recommendations include updating board policies with internal procedures to carry them out, a human resources department, conducting a manpower analysis and cost-based budgeting.

"The information that he (Gustafson) has is going to make a huge difference," Katt said.

Some changes like a human resources department will take time, but work on others, such as board policy, will begin immediately.

"We're trying to accomplish this culture change now, and the sooner we get the ground rules and framework in place the better off we are," Lance Bickle said.

"The district doesn't need rebuilding, but a remodel is in order," Gustafson said.

He will continue to work with district staff on some of the issues.