Board President Matt O'Daniel said Arlington Public Schools will never be able to replace Supt. Lynn Johnson, but he's confident they will be able to find another great leader.
"That is our charge and we'll do that and serve these kids out here and these parents and everybody else in the district well," O'Daniel said shortly after the board accepted Johnson's resignation during Monday's meeting of the Arlington Board of Education.
Helping the board find the district's new superintendent will be McPherson & Jacobson LLC. After accepting Johnson's resignation, the board voted to enter into an agreement with the Omaha-based search firm, at a cost of $6,500, to guide them through the process. The board reviewed their proposal and two others submitted by the Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB) and the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association (NRCSA).
Johnson submitted her letter of resignation to board members Oct. 24. It will be effective June 30.
"I am confident that this is the best decision for me personally and for the district as the board will have the opportunity and the time to choose a leader whom all of the board members can support,” Johnson wrote in her letter.
On Monday, she took time to offer her thanks to the board for the opportunity to serve the community and district for 31 of her 36 years in education.
Johnson joined the district as a math teacher in 1983. She also coached and served as an assistant athletic director before leaving the district for five years to serve as an assistant principal for the Elkhorn school district. She returned to Arlington as secondary principal in 1999 and became superintendent in 2009.
Trying to keep her emotions in check, Johnson said the years she has served in the district have been much more than a job to her.
"It's been my calling," she said. "I consider myself to have been very blessed to have the opportunity to be a teacher, coach, athletic director, secondary principal and superintendent in this district."
While she joked that there may have been many days she didn't want to get out of bed and go to work because she's not a morning person, she has never not wanted to work in the district.
She also offered thanks on behalf of her family, including her husband, Steve, a physical education teacher in the district, for the opportunity they had to raise their children and be part of the great things happening in Arlington.
"I thank you from the bottom of my heart for placing the trust in me and making this a home that our family has been so pleased to have and is grateful for," she said.
Johnson wasn't the only one to offer thanks. Several board members turned the tables, taking time to acknowledge her hard work and offer their thanks.
Bruce Scheer joked that he and Johnson "go way back" as she was his algebra teacher in 1988.
"I want to say thanks, Lynn, for your service to this district," he said. "You are going to be a hard one to replace and we've got a lot of work cut out for us."
O'Daniel and John Neary also offered their thanks, with Neary pointing out that she was part of the education of two generations of his family — his wife's and his children's.
"Thanks, again, Lynn, for all you've done," he said.
In offering her thoughts on the process, Johnson said she believes it will be an attractive job for a variety of reasons.
"It's a great school district, you having a great staff and some great leaders," she said. "Whoever gets the job will be fortunate."
Johnson agreed the board has a big task in front of them “because you will have to pick from some of the best. It's going to be a good task and it's because of the investment of this board and our community. It's not just internal, so you should pat yourselves on the back because you've got us to a great place and that's going to serve you well and continue to serve us all well and our kids well."
In choosing McPherson & Jacobson to assist with the search, board members cited their work with school districts of all sizes and from across the country. Board member Jessica Scheer said she didn't think the district could go wrong with any of them, but she and Vice President Shanon Willmott were most impressed with McPherson & Jacobson.
Jessica Scheer liked the fact that McPherson & Jacobson is not as connected to the district as NASB and NRCSA are and that they've worked with districts ranging in size from 400 students to 53,000.
"I like that they are removed from the school and that could potentially be a good thing and that they are all over the United States," she said. "They could pull applicants from all over."
The district worked with McPherson & Jacobson on a previous superintendent search, Neary said.
A timeline to begin the hiring process was not set. O'Daniel planned to talk with McPherson & Jacobson officials Tuesday. As part of thesearch process, which is posted on the company's website, macnjake.com, the first step will be meeting with the board to identify the desirable characteristics of the the future superintendent, establish appropriate timelines and determine advertising venues.
Though they have the task of hiring a new superintendent, the board agreed they will also continue with plans to interview architect or design firms to assist the district in looking at its current facility and how it could meet short- and long-term needs by directing Johnson to send out requests for proposals.
While they are committed to doing both tasks simultaneously, board members said they want to give both tasks the attention they need and will change direction, if they are unable to do so.
"If we get to the point of being overwhelmed or not doing as good a job as we should be on either task, then we readjust if we need to do," Jessica Scheer said.