Western Kansas is home to William Biermann, the fourth and final candidate to interview with the USD 489 Board of Education for the superintendent position.
Biermann and his wife, Laura, who grew up in Leoti, and he earned his master’s and district certification from Fort Hays State University.
“A lot of my professional experience is in western Kansas,” he said.
Before becoming Goodland USD 352 superintendent in 2011, Biermann was superintendent of the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, chief financial officer of the Southwest Plains Regional Service Center in Sublette, principal at Holcomb High School, and a math teacher at Wichita County High School and Santa Fe Trail High School in Carbondale.
Three years ago the Goodland school district passed a $15 million bond issue “to renovate and update our aging facilities, very similar, I think, to some of the issues they’re dealing with here in Hays.”
Improvements were made to the school district’s two elementary schools and building for grades 7 through 12.
“I don’t know where we’d be without it. We were really struggling on direction and vision, and how we were going to fix some issues, and where we were going to generate some dollars without that,” Biermann said.
Voters also approved a city sales tax to help pay for the improvements that helped cut the mill levy increase by about three mills, he said.
“It’s worked really well for us. In fact we’ve been above our target every month on what the projections were.”
The district negotiators and teachers have to build trust in negotiations, but negotiations likely might be strenuous in most school districts, Biermann said.
“We’re all in the same boat. There’s not a lot of extra pools of money coming in. (School district have to) take the same dollars you’ve had for the last two, three, four years, and with rising costs, funnel those dollars out. It’s tough. It’s a challenge.” Biermann said teachers in the Goodland district have had “a little bit of a raise every year.”
Goodland has a K-12 enrollment of about 970, Biermann said.
With an enrollment of approximately 3,000, the Hays school district would bring the challenge of larger district, he said.
“Hays is kind of a unique job. We’re western Kansas people. We like it out here. Hays is one of few communities (in western Kansas) that’s actually a little bit bigger than Goodland. It still has rural and moral fiber to it that as a family we look for.”
The Biermanns have five children. Their oldest child graduated from Goodland High School this year and is a student at the University of Kansas. They will have two children in elementary school, one in middle school and one in high school.
Laura Biermann is a special education teacher, and currently serves as director of the Goodland Adult Learning Center.
“We’re very much invested in the school,” Biermann said. “That’s our life. That’s what we do.”