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Former Hays city manager tapped to help lead USD 489





Former Hays city manager and management consultant Randy Gustafson will help the Hays USD 489 Board of Education look for ways to improve efficiency.

The board voted 5-1 to approve a consulting contract with Gustafson. Darren Schumacher, board vice president, voted against, and board member Marty Patterson was absent.

Greg Schwartz, board president, said he talked to Patterson, who's out of town, and Patterson had asked the board to table the issue until he returns.

Gustafson has a good record, "but to make a decision, I don't know what to compare it to," Schumacher said.

He supports the idea of a consultant, but "to make a comparison, I'd like to see some other options."

"My main expertise, if I have any, is in management," said Gustafson, who retired from his position with the city in 2007.

Finance and organization also are strengths, he said.

Two members of the audience, Louise Reese and Julie Michaelis, addressed the board about hiring Gustafson and Superintendent Will Roth and Richard Cain's retirements.

Reese said she was alarmed about the recent changes with the top administrators.

"We have a good district. I want it to stay that way," said Reese, a former teacher.

"The goal is not to make things worse," said board member Josh Waddell. "The perception is everything is as good as it possibly can be. I wish that was the case."

Waddell said though it might be difficult to see now, the changes are a move forward.

Michaelis said she is concerned someone without an education background will be making decisions.

"I think it's important to have kids in the district. I question the integrity of some things that are being decided by people that don't have kids in the district. If you're a board member, you should have kids in the district."

The management consultant will not be making any education decisions or personnel decisions, board member Lance Bickle said.

He would have no administrative authority, Gustafson said.

According to his contract, he also will prepare a report "identifying the areas of concentration the district would like a new superintendent to address."

Gustafson will be paid $125 per hour not to exceed 500 hours.

"It is an expenditure, but I think the long-term good for the district will outweigh the short term expense of it," Schwartz said.

Gustafson's recommendations, if approved by the board, would be implemented by USD 489 staff.