Archive for Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Calling it a career

Superintendent makes way for replacement

June 11, 2003

Although an official change won't occur until next month, outgoing Basehor-Linwood superintendent of schools Cal Cormack all but said goodbye to the district he's called home for the past seven years.

After a career spent in education, Cormack is retiring. On July 1, Jill Hackett, 39, the former assistant superintendent of the Goddard School District, west of Wichita, will assume the top Basehor-Linwood post.

Though not yet official, only the final paperwork stands in the way of the change in administration.

Hackett, who along with her family has taken residence in Basehor, has moved into Cormack's old office and during the Basehor-Linwood School Board meeting Monday night, the new superintendent was presented with a master key to the school district.

Cormack was hired as assistant superintendent in 1996 and after a stormy, at times controversial tenure by former superintendent Dave Pendleton, assumed the responsibilities of superintendent in 2001.

He said one of his proudest accomplishments is helping to create a more employee friendly environment in the school district and a school board working toward the same goals.

"Given the situation at the time I became superintendent, it was important we create an environment where people trusted each other and worked collaboratively for the kids and with the community," Cormack said.

"This is the most harmonious board in the history of the unified district," Cormack said, "and that's a step in the right direction."

Another of his most lasting achievements in Basehor-Linwood has been implementing the employee health insurance program in 2001, and helping build "a very strong administrative team," Cormack said.

"And none of that could have happened without a supportive board," he said.

The School Board approved adding a new member to the administrative team Monday night. Steve Blankenship, the former principal at Yucaipa Junior High School in California, will assume the vacant principal's position at Basehor-Linwood High School when school resumes.

In his tenure, Cormack has captained the school district through budget difficulties without eliminating positions or programs, helped increase the school districts participation in new technology and guided schools through growing pains or a rapid increase in student enrollment.

He, along with other school officials, was the architect of two bond issue proposals during recent months.

Both bond issues failed, but Cormack said he felt a sense of achievement for getting the issue out in public.

"There's no question I wish the bond issue would have passed but I don't take it personally," Cormack said. "I never thought the defeat of the bond issue had anything to do with me.

"We got the discussion on the table," he added. "I think we accomplished a whole lot and set the stage for when it does pass."

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