Katt eyes future goals for USD 489
By JUDY SHERARD
His title is Hays USD 489 interim superintendent, but Dean Katt isn't taking a short-term approach to his job.
As interim superintendent, Katt's contract is for 13 months and ends September 2014.
"That's the attitude I'm taking with the contract piece, but not what my role or responsibility is," he said. "I'm taking it as I'm going to be here long-term. I'm going to make the decisions based on that, not just I'm going to be gone next year anyway, so I don't care."
Katt resigned as Ottawa superintendent in March and planned to work as a consultant for a short time before retiring.
It was an adjustment, and Katt found he missed being an administrator.
"I feel revived here," he said. "It's just been wonderful. I feel great about the position."
Katt grew up in Ellis and graduated from Fort Hays State University.
His wife, Ronda, a Lawrence elementary teacher, stayed in Ottawa, so Katt lives with his son, Michael Katt, who is the Boy Scouts Wheatland District executive.
The board of education plans to fill the superintendent's position permanently, and Katt would consider applying.
"It's a really good fit, really comfortable," he said. "Hays is just a neat, great place to be."
Katt was one of five candidates interviewed in August for the interim position.
When Katt was hired, board president Greg Schwartz said the board liked his leadership qualities.
They were looking for someone who would be active in the community and reach out to the other schools in the community, Schwartz said.
So far, the biggest challenge is learning about the budget since he wasn't a part of its preparation, and how the district does business, Katt said.
The Ottawa district "set board goals (on) how much carryover we wanted."
That included maintaining a $2 million carryover in the capital outlay budget and making long-range plans.
The USD 489 budget has a smaller amount of carryover.
"To not have those balances is -- I can't say I'm stressed about it, but we really have to watch these balances a lot closer having $500,000 carryover instead of a couple million," Katt said.
Katt's strengths, he said, are administration and management, and interim curriculum director Shanna Dinkel complements those, he said.
He also sees value in having consultant Randy Gustafson's input.
"He sees a lot of the things that maybe I wouldn't, or a school employee wouldn't, just because of the city perspective of things," Katt said of Gustafson's experience as former Hays city manager.
Katt is looking forward to working with board this year.
"Hays has wonderful schools," he said. "I'm proud to be part of that."