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Friday, March 01, 2013 11:10 PM

Former school superintendent to stay on district payroll as consultant for another 8 months

By CRYSTAL HERBER, Herald Staff Writer

One of Ottawa’s top school officials stepped down with little explanation Friday morning, though the move apparently was not a surprise to school board members.

“I just needed to make some changes,” Dean Katt, Ottawa school superintendent, said. “I appreciate everything the board’s done. Everything is headed in the right direction, and I’m sure they will be very successful.”

Katt resigned Friday morning, effective immediately, during a special meeting of the Ottawa school board. Hired in 2006, he expressed gratitude for the board’s faith in him throughout his time as superintendent.

“I just want to thank the board for the opportunity to serve,” Katt said. “I appreciate it.”

The school board voted 5-1 to accept Katt’s resignation. Board members Bill Allegre, Brian Kane, Marge Stevens, Susan Ward and David White voted in favor, while Brandon Jones was the dissenting vote. Board member Dennis George was not at the meeting.

A series of  school board executive sessions were called this week to discuss personnel matters, including a 10-minute executive session Friday morning. Discussion of Katt’s departure, however, has been ongoing for a few months, Jones said.

In addition to accepting Katt’s resignation, the school board voted 6-0 to appoint Brian Kraus, assistant superintendent, as interim superintendent, also effective immediately. Katt was retained by the district as a consultant from Friday through Oct. 31, after a 6-0 vote by the board.

Katt will be on the Ottawa school district payroll until Oct. 31, Teri George, district financial director, said Friday. George said she was not aware of any lump sum buyout of Katt’s contract by the district as part of his resignation.

Katt’s off-site consulting duties for the school district likely will be determined by the board, Katt said, and involve helping the district with the transition to the new superintendent when he or she is hired. Katt said he would not be involved in the hiring process for the new superintendent.  

As the dissenting vote on the resignation, Jones said, he did not agree with the board’s direction, but supports the board now that the decision has been made. Katt fulfilled his duties well, Jones said, which is why he voted against the resignation.

“I’m finishing up my fourth year on the board, and he’s been the only superintendent I’ve worked with, and I thought that he did a really good job through what’s been some really difficult years with budget cuts,” Jones, who is not seeking re-election in April, said.

The school board voted in January 2012 to extend Katt’s $130,786 annual contract for an additional two years, which would have taken him through the 2013-2014 school year. Katt provided the board with the proper information on issues, enabling the board to make educated decisions, Jones added.

The board is expected to begin its search for a new superintendent immediately, Jones said.

Formerly the superintendent of Scott City schools, Katt was selected in 2006 as Ottawa superintendent from a group of five finalists who visited Ottawa for day-long interviews with administrators, teachers, the school board, staff and members of the community. He took the job in July 2006.

Katt said he plans to retire Nov. 1 but will remain in Ottawa after his consulting duties are completed.

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