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Iowa City Schools Superintendent Not Picked for Omaha Job

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa City school district Superintendent Stephen Murley was not picked to lead the Omaha school district, and he implied his desire is to stay in Eastern Iowa for years to come.

The Omaha school board Monday night selected Mark Evans, superintendent of the Andover school district in Kansas, to be the school system's superintendent-elect. A contract still must be agreed upon for that to be official.

Murley was one of three finalists for the job. He said Monday that he was "very excited that I'm going to be staying here in Iowa City."

Murley said he was flattered a district the size of Omaha – it has 46,000 students to Iowa City's nearly 13,000 –was interested in him and said he thought it was recognition both of his skills and the work being done by a lot of people in the Iowa City school district.

He also said that he hopes the situation would not negatively affect his relationship with school board members and the public here. Murley has said he was recruited for the Omaha job and did not actively seek it out.

"I would hope people would see it for what it was," Murley said, again adding that he felt it was recognition of the good work being done in the Iowa City school district.

School board President Marla Swesey said she was prepared for Murley to stay or to go and said the board is prepared to keep working with him. She also said the district has "strong administrative leadership."

Asked if he may explore other job opportunities in the near future, Murley pointed out that one of his sons will be a freshman in high school next year and said most parents want to provide stability during their kids' high school years. He then said his youngest son, currently a fifth-grader, would be entering high school in a few years.

Murley came to Iowa City in July 2010. The Iowa City school board approved a new three-year contract with him earlier this month, paying him a base salary of $192,000. Board members were not aware Murley was a candidate for the Omaha job before voting on the contract.

The school district has a big special election coming up Feb. 5, when voters will be asked to grant approval for the district to borrow ahead on up to $100 million in future sales tax revenue. That money would go toward school repairs, additions and new buildings to accommodate growing enrollment.

Murley said he did not believe his Omaha candidacy would have an effect on the outcome of the election because the district wants the money to help fund a long-term facilities plan that will likely outlast current school administrators and school board members. The sales tax is in place until 2029.

Board member Karla Cook agreed, saying before the Omaha announcement that it's the school board that ultimately would decide how the money would be spent.

"We're over the process," she said. "The board is over the process."

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