Iowa City Superintendent Finalist for Omaha Schools Post
By Gregg Hennigan and Meryn Fluker, Reporters
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa City school district Superintendent Stephen Murley is a finalist for the same position in the Omaha school district.
Murley is listed as one of three finalists for the job on the Omaha school district's website. He is scheduled to be in Omaha for a public "meet and greet" Dec. 11, according to the site.
Murley, age 46, came to the Iowa City school district in summer 2010 from the Wausau, Wis., school district, where he had worked for 11 years. He was not immediately available for comment Friday but said he would call a reporter later in the afternoon.
Iowa City school board President Marla Swesey said Murley told her of his candidacy for the Omaha job on Thursday night.
She declined to say whether she was surprised by the news but said as a former teacher, she understands that administrators come and go.
Just this past Tuesday, the school board approved a new three-year contract for Murley, paying him a base salary of $192,000. Swesey declined to say whether she would have liked to have known Murley was interviewing elsewhere as the Iowa City school board negotiated with him.
"Whatever happens in Superintendent Murley's employment plans, the board and administration remain committed to ongoing district initiatives and ensuring that every child in Iowa City Community School District is provided an excellent education," she said, reading a statement she had prepared.
The district currently is facing several major issues, most of them related to rising enrollment. A special election is scheduled for Feb. 5 to vote on what is called a revenue purpose statement to give the district the ability to borrow ahead on sales-tax revenue to be able to access up to $100 million for building projects.
Murley also is working on a comprehensive facilities plan to help guide decisions for years to come.
"I think that the timing is a little difficult for us given the revenue purpose statement vote for us in February," said school board member Tuyet Dorau. "I understand that an opportunity has been presented to him and I do not begrudge him taking advantage of that opportunity."
Board member Sarah Swisher said Omaha would be lucky to get Murley and she does not want him to leave the Iowa City school district. She also said Murley assured her he is not unhappy here.
"I think Superintendent Murley has brought a lot of talent and inspiration to the district not only with his own work but with the team of administrators he's assembled," she said.
Murley has two sons in the Iowa City school district.
The Omaha school district is much bigger than the Iowa City district, with about 46,000 students compared with nearly 13,000.
The other finalists for the Omaha job are Carey M. Wright, the chief academic officer for the District of Columbia Public Schools, and Mark Evans, superintendent of the Andover school district in Kansas.
Former Des Moines school district Superintendent Nancy Sebring was hired by the Omaha school district this past spring but resigned before starting after the release of sexually explicit emails she had sent and received.