The Board of Education for the St. Joseph School District announced Thursday that Dr. Doug Van Zyl has been named as the next superintendent of the district.
After interviewing three finalists, the Board voted to employ Dr. Van Zyl.
“The Board was delighted with the candidates we had to select from and believe that Dr. Van Zyl is a perfect match – in background and experience – for St. Joseph,” said Lori Prussman and Larry Koch, the two Board members overseeing the search process.
Dr. Van Zyl is in his eighth year as superintendent in Fort Dodge, Iowa, a school district of approximately 4,000 students. According to a press release from the St. Joseph School District, during his tenure, Dr. Van Zyl increased student achievement, stabilized the budget and developed many partnerships between the school district and local business and civic organizations. After a long process of public engagement, Van Zyl recently helped Fort Dodge pass a bond issue with more than a 70% approval rating – one of the first bond issues to pass in many years.
In speaking to the St. Joseph School Board, Van Zyl said he is honored to have the opportunity to serve as superintendent in St. Joseph.
“I realize the Board had many excellent candidates and I take my selection sincerely as a vote of confidence in the leadership I have to offer the district and the community. I am excited to begin getting to know people in St. Joseph and to begin listening to staff and citizens throughout the community about how we can move forward to connect the district and the community in order to better serve our students.”
Dr. Van Zyl was born and raised in Minnesota and went to Northwestern Christian College in Iowa. Prior to serving as superintendent in Fort Dodge, Van Zyl was superintendent of Harrisonville, Missouri, for three years. He previously served as an assistant superintendent in Harrisonville and was an elementary principal in the Independence School District for seven years. In addition to his BS degree from Northwestern College, Van Zyl has an MS from Sam Houston State University in Texas and a doctorate from the University of Missouri at Columbia. Dr. Van Zyl and his wife have three children, two currently in college and one graduating from high school this year.
All three of the final candidates participated in interviews with the Board and with interview committees. The interview committees were comprised of teachers, administrators, community stakeholders, parents and students. Each candidate spent most of a day with the district, including an interview with the Board.
The new superintendent was hired with a three-year contract with an annual salary of $210,000 the first two years. Any future increase to his salary is linked to future salary increases awarded to St. Joseph teachers. The Board granted Dr. Van Zyl’s request to be provided family health insurance, which he was provided in Fort Dodge. He will receive the benefits given all St. Joseph School District administrators along with a car allowance, which is a typical benefit given superintendents in the region. Dr. Van Zyl and his family plan to move to St. Joseph at the end of this school year.
Dr. Van Zyl will begin his new role with the St. Joseph School District on July 1st, but he plans to make a number of visits to the school district and the community during the spring.