The school board at Hastings Public Schools got it right in 2006 when it hired Craig Kautz to be superintendent to replace Gene Cosby.

One only needs to drive by each school building around town for proof. There has been a lot of noticeable change since 2006, hasn’t there? And there are plenty of other reasons why the board got it right, as well.

When Kautz announced last November that he was retiring at the end of this school year, the board needed to search for another superintendent.

And, just as in 2006, the school board didn’t have to go far to find the best candidate for the job. The board approved Feb. 11 the hiring of Jeff Schneider as the next superintendent of Hastings Public Schools.

As was the case with Kautz, the board went not only with the obvious choice but also with one who is the right fit for the district.

In each case, board members pretty much knew what they were getting. They knew each one’s style, personality, attitude, passions, demeanor, priorities, work ethic and character. There was no need to check for references.

Again, like Kautz, Schneider knows the ins and outs of the district. He knows the local political climate. He knows the history and the culture of the school district and the community. As a Hastings native, he knows the people of Hastings, including what they value and what they expect from their school system.

All of that familiarity within the district and community should make for a smooth transition.

Yes, it is worth noting that Schneider has no previous experience as a superintendent. But neither did Kautz. However, both were already proven leaders in the school district, which is a huge qualification on its own.

Kautz spent 16 years with the district before he became superintendent. He was the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and human resources under Cosby.

Meanwhile, Schneider, a graduate of St. Cecilia High School, has been with Hastings Public Schools for 25 years. He is serving as the director of finance under Kautz.

Given the school district’s gloomy budget outlook over the next few years, Schneider’s knowledge and experience as the school district’s finance director will come in mighty handy in deciding what’s best to do for the district.

“There’s 3,500 kids counting on us every single day. Their families are counting on us. Our community is counting on us,” Schneider said during his job interview.

Also during the interview, Schneider said he didn’t view seeking this position as a stepping stone. Instead, he felt it was his destination and that hiring him would not be a mistake.

“If I get this I don’t want to fail in front of this community. I will be unbelievably motivated to not fail,” he said.

There are a lot of expectations that come with being hired for this position. Craig Kautz lived up to those expectations.

There are plenty of good reasons to think that Jeff Schneider will also. He is the right choice for Hastings Public Schools.


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