ELLIS — The first of three candidates for Ellis USD 388 superintendent interviewed with the board of education Monday evening.
Steven E. Pegram, superintendent at Santa Fe Trail USD 434, spent the afternoon touring the district’s buildings and the community and meeting with officials.
During a public meet and greet session in the afternoon, about a dozen people — mostly USD 388 teachers and staff, but also a few community members — met with Pegram in the high school’s lobby.
When asked why he wanted to leave USD 434 — a district with an enrollment of about 1,100 that includes the communities of Overbrook, Carbondale and Scranton in Osage County south of Topeka — Pegram was bluntly honest.
“You have a job opening and I’m looking for a job,” he said.
“I have been at Santa Fe Trail for 12 years, and to be quite honest with you, I’m kind of a little bored doing the same thing,” he said.
Pegram said he lives in Silver Lake, just northwest of Topeka and has never lived in the district he supervises.
He also said the district is “kind of routine” with no big issues at the moment.
“I’m looking for a job and I want to go to a smaller place. I don’t plan on working here for 12 years, just to be honest, but if I’m going to work for as long as I want to work, I want to be smaller where I can make the relationships a lot easier,” he said.
He said he was impressed with USD 388’s facilities.
“I was very impressed. I mean you go down this hall right here, it's amazing. Kids have some opportunity that I know our kids don't have,” he said. He said USD 388’s woodworking shop is about twice the size of USD 434, for example.
He also liked the sense of community in the district.
“In a consolidated school system, you don’t have that community feel,” he said.
When asked what his first steps would be if hired as superintendent, Pegram said asking questions of the school board and others would be most important.
“Where do I need to go, what do I need to do? A small district, if there’s a chance to meet with the staff over the summer, I’d like to do that, too. Just start learning,” he said.
“For the first six months, you’re just kind of eyeballing, seeing what’s going on. You’re going to depend a lot on the principals on what’s going on in the past, how things are now, what do we need to do?
“I’m sure the board has some ideas on what they want as well,” he said.