Dan Decker, of Aurora, has been named the new superintendent of schools for the Neosho R-5 School District.

Dan Decker, of Aurora, has been named the new superintendent of schools for the Neosho R-5 School District.

Decker, who is currently in his fourth year as superintendent at the Aurora R-8 School District, was selected by the board of education in a 6-0 vote during a closed session meeting on Monday, Dec. 3.

He will begin his duties with the district on July 1, 2013.

“We have spoken with his colleagues, co-workers, subordinates and patrons and the first thing that is readily apparent about Dan in their opinions is that he is a man of integrity,” the school board said in a statement.

Decker has worked in education for 21 years, as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent.

Decker said he has heard good things about the Neosho school district.

“They’re on the verge of doing some really good things, it’s an exciting time in education and this is a community and an area that can, what I would consider, be a lighthouse in education,” Decker said.

Decker is a native of Lockwood, Mo. He and his wife, Jenni, have been married 22 years, and have five children, ages 20, 16,14, 9 and 6. They are also in the process of adopting a daughter from China.

Decker said having children in the school district adds an extra level of accountability for him as superintendent.

“When you bring change or when you do things in the district, there’s a little more credibility that comes along with that because you’re not going to put your own kids in harm’s way,” Decker said. “That’s allowed me to have some credibility, so I think that’s another big piece is just having that representation across the district.”

The school district began searching for a new superintendent in June, shortly after former superintendent Richard Page left for a position in the Gravette, Ark., school district.

The school board elected to hire the Missouri School Boards’ Association to assist them in the search.
The search drew 28 applicants from six states, and attracted what MSBA consultant Bob Watkins said was an impressive group of applicants.

“It’s probably as strong a field as I’ve seen,” Watkins said. “The type of district that Neosho is has caused a lot of interest. It’s a great location and people see that.”

Brett Day, school board president, expressed on several occasions his desire to make a “home run decision” in the superintendent selection. On Tuesday, Day said he felt the board had done just that.

“Time will tell but I have full confidence in Dan and I think he’s going to lead us to some exciting places,” Day said. “I think the community is going to like him, I think our staff is going to like him, they’re going to respect him and they’re going to like what he brings to the table.”

Decker said he has several areas he hopes to pursue once he fills his new position, including one-to-one technology and master learning versus seat time, which he said there is currently a big push for in Missouri education.
“I’m excited to begin that here,” Decker said.

Day said the progress the Aurora R-8 School District has made was one of the factors that stood out to board members when they made their decision.

“We were also impressed with several initiatives undertaken at Aurora during Dan’s tenure in the areas of academic achievement, evaluation and planning, and social issues,” the board’s statement said.

Following Page’s departure, the school board selected former assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, Alma Stipp, to fill the superintendent’s position for one year.

Stipp will continue in the role until Decker takes over July 1.

Day said the board’s decision to appoint Stipp to the position has proved to be the right one.

“She’s been fantastic,” Day said. “We were very fortunate to have her agree to stay on. This isn’t a case of that we’re letting a year go by and just trying to tread water, we’re moving forward with a lot of things. She’s one of the greatest Wildcats there is, is what it comes down to.”