AP NEWS

Jason Alexander ready to lead BPS

December 12, 2017 GMT

Jason Alexander will bring his superintendent experience to Beatrice Public Schools when he starts in the district next year.

He was one of four finalists interviewed to be the superintendent of BPS following an announcement that Pat Nauroth is retiring next June.

Alexander is the current superintendent of Ord Public Schools in central Nebraska. He was previously an elementary principal. He served as the elementary administrator at Burwell Elementary School and taught sixth grade, in addition to coaching four sports.

The interview process consisted of meetings with the School Board, members of the public, school administration and school staff.

During his interview with the School Board, Alexander said he grew up in Wyoming and is the son of a Wyoming State Patrolman and a banker. He knew from a young age he wanted to be a teacher, and his dad coached him toward that goal.

He graduated from Chadron State College and was previously an elementary principal. He served as the elementary administrator at Burwell Elementary School and taught sixth grade, in addition to coaching four sports.

His resume states he’s helped get student achievement NeSA scores above state averages in every subject. Alexander said he sees those same trends at Beatrice, but said scores aren’t everything.

“The bottom line is those things like the NeSA scores, the ACT scores, they’re all important,” he said. “But the most important thing may not be what those scores represent, but the people who are representing the students that are producing those scores. Your staff is doing an awesome job.”

Coming into Beatrice, Alexander said the two biggest challenges he sees facing the district are the age of some facilities and declining enrollment.

Finding ways to grow the district will be a top priority when he begins as superintendent.

“You’re in a position in Beatrice where this district has the opportunity to grow,” he said. “The potential is there. I think it can and I think what it takes is the marketing campaign that you’ve already started of being amongst the nation’s top schools, and now taking that to a new level locally and regionally, and telling people we are Beatrice Public Schools, and we are moving forward.”

After the district failed to pass a bond to build a new elementary school in Beatrice, retiring the current four outdated schools, Alexander said it’s important getting everyone on the same page regarding the schools’ facilities.

“The age of some of those facilities is something you’re going to need to address in the future,” he said. “It’s something that, with the right person in place, getting everybody in the same canoe going down the same river, paddling at the same speed can be done. It won’t be easy, that’s always a challenge.”

Alexander was a final project manager of a 29,000-square-foot addition at Ord. He also led the passage of a $9.8 million bond issue for the school.

The candidates were asked about budget cuts, and how they would go about that process if needed. Alexander said that even though it would mean some tough conversations, talking to the staff is the best place to start.

“I think when you’re making decisions about the district, the people who are going to be impacted in the district the most need to have the opportunity to be part of those decisions,” he said. “As tough as those talks may be, and I’ve been through them, staff will sometimes give you ideas that you haven’t thought of, or solutions that make the process much easier. You have to be willing to talk to them.”

He also discussed the importance of implementing technology in the classroom, including the use of Chromebooks, affordable computers often used in schools.

“Technology in our day and age, we have to use it to prepare our kids,” Alexander said. “Their digital world is going to be through technology. That’s where the jobs are going to be. That’s where the market is going to be for our kids and we have to be on board with it ourselves, whether we like it or not. It’s hugely important for our kids.”

Alexander said the administration and staff should take pride in educating students, who should also strive to do their best.

“We want them to know that when they come here, they’re safe and they’re taken care of, but we also have an expectation of them,” he said. “That is to perform at their best every time they walk through the door.”