Mexico superintendent search enters next phase

Posted 2/28/24

The Mexico School District’s search for a new superintendent is moving forward, with a clear course of action coming out of the Feb. 20 board meeting.

It’s as follows:

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Mexico superintendent search enters next phase


The Mexico School District’s search for a new superintendent is moving forward, with a clear course of action coming out of the Feb. 20 board meeting.

It’s as follows:

  • Selection of Board Members for the Committee Interview Group

The board selected Michelle Stephens and Matt Pilger to serve on the interview committee for superintendent interviews. Michelle Stephens was chosen to be the committee chair for the interview committee.

  • Superintendent Leadership Priorities Survey Results

The results from an early February school and community survey were offered to the board. The survey results were considered during the selection of the interview questions for the committee and board interviews. The survey results, which had 422 participants, composed of parents, staff members and community members, was given to the interview committee for consideration.

  • Interview Process

A list of possible superintendent interview questions were given to the board for discussion. The board chose questions for the board interviews.

Here’s the timeline:

  • February 21: The Interview Committee met at 5:30 p.m. to discuss interview questions and review the superintendent applications. The committee determined who will be called for an interview. The committee is made up of six teachers - Amber Graziano, Alex Stuckenschneider, Stacey Ellison, Dale Schenewerk, Donna Butts, and one TBD - one support staff individual -Kris Fecht - two administrators -Anne Billington, Brad Ellebracht - and two board members, Michelle Stephens and Matt Pilger.
  • February 24: The Interview Committee convened and interviewed a determined number of candidates (from the Feb 21 discussions). The committee chose two candidates to move forward to interviews with the Board of Education.
  • February 27 and 28: The Board of Education will interview two candidates. (results not available at press time). The candidates were to first meet faculty and staff at 4 p.m. at Mexico High School . Then, the candidate's superintendent interview will follow. The same process will take place on the following day for a second candidate.
  • February 28: The Board will make a decision regarding a candidate for superintendent. A candidate will accept the position, communicate with his/her home district, and participate in contract negotiations prior to a public release of the chosen candidate. This may take a few days.

Leading up to the search

The Mexico Public School District announced late Friday afternoon, Jan. 19,  that Superintendent Melissa Chastain would be retiring from her position at the end of the academic year. Also turning in resignations were Assistant Superintendent Dr. Robert Miles and BOE secretary Bethany Collins. With the impending losses, the district immediately got to work filling these positions. 

Filling vacancies can be a challenge as turnover is growing increasingly common in education.

Mexico isn’t alone in turnover in Audrain County and for that matter, throughout the state. Van-Far’s superintendent John Fortney as well as Community R-6 superintendent Nick Larson have also announced they are moving on. 

Chastain’s departure was officially made during a closed session meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16, following a discussion by board members in open session about the district’s public comment policy. Current BOE policy doesn’t allow for an open comment period during BOE monthly meetings

A press release praised Chastain’s accomplishments while with the district. A 19-year-veteran with Mexico, her impact was noted.

“Her dedication to ensuring the success and well-being of all students has been a driving force behind her leadership,” a spokesperson said. “To accomplish this task, Mrs. Chastain is known as an avid supporter of her staff members, championing their work in the classroom and community.”

Chastain has been an integral part of the Mexico School District. She served the last couple of years as superintendent; she has served as interim superintendent and assistant superintendent; was the principal of Hawthorne Elementary School for five years and was assistant principal at Eugene Field. Other roles included a district reading coach, special education teacher, and process coordinator.

“I have been so blessed to work alongside amazing educators during my time here in this district,” Chastain said at the time of her resignation. “I am truly honored to have worked with some of the greatest colleagues in education. The staff has worked tirelessly to focus their efforts on student learning, which will continue over time. I am proud of the relationships that I was able to foster and develop over the years with the students, staff, parents, and community members.”