Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Will this man be the Joplin R-8 interim superintendent?

When Norm Ridder took over as interim superintendent of the Mehlville School District last year, he was stepping into a minefield.

The previous superintendent, a well known and highly visible administrator, had spent the district into millions of dollars of debt. Ridder had to come in, speak some hard truths to people about cuts that needed to be made, and find a way to rally the school district around him.

By all accounts, Ridder's year in Mehlville was a rousing success.

Will the former Springfield superintendent have the opportunity to work his magic on a school district with even deeper problems?

An article in The Call, a St. Louis county newspaper, in June indicated Ridder was applying for this type of position, though it also noted that he was applying for positions in state education departments. Sources indicate that Mehlville officials have talked with people from Joplin about Ridder. His tenure in Mehlville was described in the article:

When Ridder came to the district last year, things weren't looking up for Mehlville, former board President Ron Fedorchak noted in his parting remarks in April.

The school board had two new members, Samantha Stormer and Jean Pretto, and immediately faced decisions on $5 million and $8 million budget deficits with the imminent departure of former Superintendent Eric Knost. But then-Springfield Superintendent Ridder — known nationwide for his work in education — chose Mehlville over a larger urban district and turned around a situation that seemed hopeless, Fedorchak said.

"After one interview, I knew we needed him here to help pave a new direction for us," Stormer said. "Working with Dr. Ridder over the past year has inspired me to look deeper within myself, listen more to our community and make the best possible decisions for our district. I'm going to miss him not being here and being able to call him any time I have doubts about my decisions.

"While he has never said what to do, he has always made me think harder and figure it out for myself. That is what an excellent leader does."

Ridder, like the man he may be called on to replace, C. J. Huff, was a finalist for the Missouri Commissioner of Education position that eventually went to Margatet Vandeven.

While the Mehlville board was fully behind Ridder when he had the opportunity to get the state's top job, it did not want him to leave when his year as interim superintendent came to a close. Board President Ron Fedorchak said the superintendent position was left open for a time on the chance that Ridder might decide to stay.

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education is scheduled to meet in closed session 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Memorial Administration Building to discuss the interim superintendent position and possibly to interview candidates.
The stories of C. J. Huff, Mark Rohr, David Wallace, Mike Woolston, and more are featured in Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption, and the Joplin Tornado. Available in paperback and e-book editions.


Anonymous said...

Do we know or can we know who (including this guy) is being interviewed?

Anonymous said...

The press release on the Mehlville School District, says he and his wife are headed for Colorado.

Anonymous said...

This is 5:10,
It looks like he is looking for a job. Here is a post from June 9th in a Florida paper:

Norman Ridder approached his interview immediately with a plan. He is currently the superintendent of the Mehlville School District in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ridder said that it will take him 100 days to accurately assess the needs of the district. In those first 100 days, he said he will meet with individuals throughout the community and within the school system. From there, he would form a strategic plan based on student preparation, teacher support and effective and efficient practices. He starts from the classroom up, he said, with all of his plans, including budgeting.

"It's my DNA, it's who I am to build a culture of improvement," he said. " … And I really feel that's why I'm here. Brevard is that close to becoming one of the best districts in the south east part of the United States … You just don't have a system in place, and I can give you that system."

He's not afraid to change policies as needed, he said, and he is big on upholding high values and telling the truth. Ridder mentioned his work as a deacon and that it is of high importance to him to uphold high moral values and transparency.

He referenced numerous experiences throughout his career where he has dealt with budget deficits and major challenges when it comes to policies and cultural differences. He is the only candidate so far to indicate that he does not believe a superintendent should be part of teacher and union negotiations.

As for Brevard specifically, he said the district needs someone to identify what's not working.

"I don't think you have a system in place to identify your waste," he said.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter who it is, Turner will continue to spew his garbage. The person will never be good enough. With Turner providing and encouraging a forum for negative comments from every complaining, piece of cancer in the district, he or she won't stand a chance. As bad as the Huff regime has been, this blog has more potential to decimate the district in the years to come. Who the hell would come here after googling Joplin schools and reading these comments and the Huff debacle? No one in their right minds. Koch seems like a decent guy and with more experience perhaps he can work damage control and help the district. Fort sure cant, soooo glad she wasn't voted in as President. I would not want her representing the Joplin school district.

Anonymous said...

This isn't "garbage." This is what is happening. It does seem that many of the comments are more negative than positive, BUT all should be seen. The comments and information on this blog are a combination of facts and opinions. If you check, you'll see that Mr. Turner is actually posting information that can be verified. Opinion is just that--opinion.
You are right about the fact that there will always be people who are unhappy and complaining. Such is the world. At the same time, the different posts give some interesting information.
Koch does seem to be doing a pretty good job while learning how to do it at the same time. I often wonder how he keeps from throwing things at some of the people there. Mr. Nodler comes to mind.
Dr. Fort knows well how to play the kinds of games the Huff regime has been playing. Her position right now is perfect. The role of president might end up leading to a power trip that will not help us.

Anonymous said...


Life isn't all sunshine and unicorn farts.

People make mistakes, someone has to pay the bills, sometimes the superintendent is fired by the voters. People who expose the bad news usually aren't responsible for causing the bad news.

If indictments start dropping at City Hall, you'll blame The Turner Report?

Really? said...

I would love to see your positive response to someone slapping the hell out of your face.

'Oh thank you so much for the brief facial massage. We need more of that dynamic physical interaction between people. Your taking the time to engage me in such a personal way shows how much you really care. '

Get real.

Anonymous said...

If the truth is garbage then I hope that Turner keeps spewing it. Sometimes the truth hurts, but journalists are supposed to keep public entities honest. I guess the Globe has forgotten that. We count on Turner to get information to us.

If it is Ridder, research shows that he will be a good choice and that maybe there is some hope in the air. Let's all put the weapons down for a few days and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to break it to you 7:21 but you're the only one putting a negative slant on this. The tone is neutral and matter of fact. If you feel that Turner is "spewing garbage" then why are you here? If he really is encouraging a forum for negative comments then you took the bait.

Anonymous said...

I know a large number of people who have been slapped in the face by Huff and Co.

Anonymous said...

Looks like we have our man.