"Interim" No More - Ford Hired As USD 501 Superintendent

Dr. Julie Ford speaks after Topeka's USD 501 Board of Education approved a contract naming her superintendent Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011. Ford served in an interim capacity since summer. (WIBW)

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Topeka Public School District's Board of Education decided they didn't need to look any further for a new leader.

Board members voted Thursday night to remove the "interim" from Dr. Julie Ford's title and make her USD 501's permanent superintendent. The move forgoes the need for launching a nationwide search.

“I am very honored to be selected to serve Topeka Public Schools. I feel the district is focused and has many dedicated staff and community members willing to help Topeka Public Schools continue to improve. Students in this district are great and we need to continue to focus on opportunities that will prepare them for post-secondary education and careers. The directions of the strategic plan and many initiatives that have been started and are in progress make Topeka Public Schools a great place to work,” Ford said.

Ford become the district's first female superintendent. She's served as an interim capacity since mid-July. Previous superintendent Dr. Kevin Singer left for a position in Pennsylvania. The board's first choice to serve in an interim capacity, Dr. John Morton, resigned after just four days, citing family issues.

Ford's contract is for three years. She'll make a base salary of $155,000. It's a raise from the $150,000 annual salary in her contract to serve in an interim capacity, but less than the $200,000 base salary Singer was earning.

Board President Patrick Woods says, for the first time, the contract also includes performance elements. He says Ford could earn up to $5,000 more by achieving certain goals in areas such as student performance and implementing parts of the district's strategic plan.

Before joining the district, Ford worked as director of title programs and services for the Kansas Department of Education. Woods says that experience makes Ford the perfect fit for a district which has schools struggling with achievement issues. Woods says he's also impressed with Ford's enthusiasm for moving students forward.

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