The opportunity was too good to pass up.
That’s what Hays USD 489 Superintendent Dean Katt said was the deciding factor to resign at the end of the school year to pursue other options in the education field.
Katt is expected to be named the head of the human resources department at the Independence (Mo.) school district in a board meeting Tuesday night.
“The opportunity came up, and I just couldn’t turn it down,” Katt said.
Katt was hired by USD 489 in September 2013 as interim superintendent to replace Will Roth. Following a search, Katt was named superintendent of the district a few months later in December.
The move to Missouri will get Katt closer to his grandchildren. He’ll also be able to retire in Kansas, then work in Missouri.
“I intended to retire before I took the interim position here,” Katt said. “There are such great people here, phenomenal people. It’s been the best job I’ve had.
“It’s been a real joy. … I’m just to that point that when the opportunity came up, I had to take it.”
BOE President Lance Bickle said Katt has served the district well in his time in Hays.
“We are obviously very disappointed to be losing Superintendent Dean Katt to another opportunity,” Bickle said in an email to The Hays Daily News. “We would like to thank him for his time and dedication to us here at USD 489. Dean has been instrumental in helping drive some very positive changes over the last several years and for that, we are grateful. I believe Dean will finish out the rest of this year, and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. There is a lot going on in the district right now, but I know if we all work together we will continue the positive momentum as we always have.
“We as a district have accomplished a great deal over the past few years, and I know USD 489 will accomplish a great deal more in the future.”
Katt’s tenure at the school has been eventful. Upon arrival, he jumped in immediately to the ongoing Facilities Needs Committee work. He oversaw the transition of Washington Elementary School into the Early Childhood Center. He had to downsize staff because of decreased funding from the state, as well as budget surprises from USD 489 itself prior to his arrival. He’s also had to deal with changes and retirements in administrative positions at schools in the district.
Most recently, Katt has been giving presentations of why the district is seeking a $94 million bond to maintain and upgrade its facilities.
He’s also seen change among the board of education, with several longtime members leaving or being voted out of office in his three years.
“The toughest thing was the budget and trying to do that,” Katt said. “I had to come in and make cuts. The thing I regret the most is not being able to see through until next year some of the things we’ve had to do with teachers and everything.”
Katt grew up in Ellis and is a graduate of Fort Hays State University. He resigned as superintendent of the Ottawa school district prior to taking the interim job in Hays.