GIPS school board chooses interim superintendent

The Grand Island Public School Board has chosen Matt Fisher to lead the district.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 8:18 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2023 at 10:34 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The Grand Island Public School Board has chosen Matt Fisher to lead the district for the next 17 months.

Fisher is one of three candidates the board had to choose from. The other two were Dr. Virginia Moon and Dr. Michael Teahon. While the board was deciding, they elected to have Dr. Robin Dexter assume the role until it is otherwise appointed.

Now Fisher is no stranger to Grand Island education as he was the superintendent of the Northwest school district. Dr. Moon had interim superintendent experience at both Kearney and Omaha Public Schools, while Dr. Teahon served as the Gothenburg Public Schools superintendent for 18 years.

Fisher will assume the interim superintendent role on February 1. After Thursday night’s meeting, Board President Hank McFarland gave a look at what made Fisher stand out from the other candidates.

“I see Mr. Fisher being able to come in immediately and make an impact through his communication skills number one, his communication skills, all three were good, excellent, his was just a step above,” McFarland said. “The things he kept talking about during the interviewing process about working with other people, communicating through listening he kept hitting on a lot of things that were important to a lot of us.”

McFarland also said this is a move that all Grand Islanders should look forward too.

“He’s going to work with all the groups involved, and he’s going to be visible, I’ll tell you what I was really impressed, I think everybody in Grand Island is going to be impressed by his ability to connect everything together,” McFarland said.

Grand Island Public Schools released this statement in response to the naming of Fisher to the interim superintendent role: A face familiar to the community will be taking the helm for the next 17 months at Grand Island Public Schools.

The GIPS Board of Education has announced Mr. Matthew Fisher has been tapped to serve as the district’s Interim Superintendent.

After reconvening from an Executive Session at Thursday’s Board Meeting, the Board voted to approve the contract of Fisher. His first official day serving the district will be Wednesday, February 1st. Until then, Dr. Robin Dexter will serve as Acting Superintendent to ensure a smooth transition.

“Having been a part of the Grand Island community for the past ten-and-a-half years has given me many opportunities to see all the outstanding work the Grand Island Public Schools District is doing.” Fisher said, “I feel very honored to be able to assume a leadership role in helping to shape the great works the district will be doing as we move forward.”

Mr. Matthew Fisher from Grand Island, NE currently serves as the Director of Public Finance at First National Capital Markets but is perhaps best known for his time serving as Superintendent of Northwest Public Schools from 2012-2019. Entering the classroom in 1986, Fisher began his education tenure as a Math & Computer Science Teacher at Rock County High School. During his 32 year career in education, Fisher has also served as Superintendent of Chase County Schools, Secondary Principal of Chase County High School, and Secondary Principal at Rock County High School. Mr. Fisher carries an Education Specialist, Superintendent (EdS) degree from UNK.

Fisher’s appointment caps a month-long process that began after December’s Board Meeting. Through the consulting support of the Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB), the GIPS Board conducted a thorough search for an interim leader. The process culminated earlier this week as three finalists were interviewed on Tuesday by both the Board as well as district Executive Cabinet members and Administrators.

Mr. Hank McFarland, GIPS Board President, is certain the district found a strong leader in Fisher.

“We feel extremely fortunate to announce the hiring of Mr. Matt Fisher as our new Interim Superintendent for the Grand Island Public Schools,” McFarland said, “Mr. Fisher has 32 years of educational experience in Nebraska, with 15 years of that experience spent as a school Superintendent. Mr. Fisher will be a strong leader for the Grand Island Public Schools. He believes in the importance of team building through effective collaboration and “listening more than speaking”. He understands the importance of identifying priorities at the building level as well as on an entire systems level. Finally, he has the strong communication skills necessary to tie together the school system, business community, local government and other stakeholders into a cohesive unit focused on improving education for the children of Grand Island.

We sincerely appreciate this opportunity to welcome Mr. Matt Fisher into the Islander educational family, and we look forward to experiencing Mr. Fisher’s positive impact on the next phase of improvement in the Grand Island Public Schools.”

Going forward, Fisher will be operating under a 17-month contract that will begin on February 1st. During the first 5-months of the contract, Mr. Fisher’s compensation will be a gross salary of $100,000. During the last 12 months of the contract, Mr. Fisher’s gross salary will be $275,000.

Why the two-term 17-month contract?

Constructing the agreement in this fashion allows for the GIPS Board to continue being proactive in its search for a Permanent Superintendent. The agreement also aims to establish a firm footing for Mr. Fisher to lead with confidence in serving in the Interim role.

The Superintendent search process began when Dr. Tawana Grover resigned from her position on December 9th to pursue other career opportunities. She served GIPS through seven school years.

Moving forward, the GIPS Board will continue conducting a nationwide search for a permanent leader. Being among the larger school districts in the state, the Board is confident an 18-month window will permit ample time and opportunity to find the right candidate.

For now, the Board and the District are confident the good work and positive momentum in GIPS will press on.

“As I work through the rest of January finalizing work I have been doing with multiple school districts across the state, I plan to spend as much time as possible in the GIPS district getting to know staff and familiarizing myself with challenges and opportunities that exist.” Fisher affirmed, “I’m really excited to be moving back into an educational leadership role and I feel that GIPS is a great place to put my skills to work. I look forward to building a strong relationship with all the district stakeholders.”