By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – An Oshkosh native, Green Bay Area Public School District superintendent finalist Steve Murley said Wisconsin is his home.
Because of that connection to the Dairy State, he said he is the best candidate for the district’s top job.
Murley wrapped up his Day in the District with a meet-and-greet with community members Thursday, Feb. 20.
He said applying for the superintendent position in Green Bay was a deliberate, professional choice.
“I love Iowa, but I’m from Wisconsin,” he said. “Wisconsin has always been home. I know Green Bay. I did my research. I targeted Green Bay specifically. I think from a calling standpoint it (the superintendent job) gives me an opportunity to make a difference in a place I care about. And I’ve made a history of coming into places and staying long enough to make a difference.”
Attendees had the opportunity to submit questions that Murley addressed during the Q&A portion of the event.
They were also asked to write down their thoughts about Murley to be given to the school board to help in their decision-making process.
Some of the questions Murley fielded included embracing the diversity of the district, achievement gaps, board/district relations and building community trust.
He was also asked to clarify some issues his current district, Iowa City Community School District, has faced recently, including concerns over a school safety violation and several special education violations.
Murley said it was an uncomfortable process, but it led to positive outcomes for the entire school population – including better training from the state for staff, as well as increased special education review practices.
Multiple times throughout the evening, Murley highlighted the similarities he sees between Iowa City and the Green Bay school district.
He said Green Bay faces many of the same challenges in regards to budget hardships stemming from a lack of state support and struggles with declining enrollment.
Murley cited the changes the elementary schools his district went through this past year in regards to new boundaries, with nearly 4,000 of the 7,200 elementary-level students being sent to a new school this year.
He said he believes his experience with these types of changes would help with the changes the district could be facing in the future with the Redesign 2020 work and the repurposing and consolidation of west side schools.
The key, he said, was taking the time to deliberate things in public and explain the rationale behind the decision.
“We got a lot of community input on it,” he said. “If you take the time, if you deliberate in public, if you share your rationale for what you are doing so that the people really understand the why – even if the answer that you give them isn’t the answer that they want – they are going to understand it. And if they understand that answer, they can help us move forward with it.”
The school board met with Murley following the meet-and-greet at Hotel Northland for a final interview.
“I have been leading school districts for the last 15 years,” he said. “I’ve been working on developing knowledge and skills and abilities that I think I can apply to the opportunities and challenges you have here. I think this is a great fit for me, for my family – on a personal and professional basis.”
The board took the information it collected and deliberated during a special closed-session meeting Monday, Feb. 24.
A candidate is expected to be selected soon, with a start date of July 1.