The Leavenworth Board of Education has approved a residency requirement for administrators.
Passed Wednesday night by a 4-2 vote, the new policy requires the Leavenworth district's superintendent, assistant superintendent and school principals to live in the city of Leavenworth.
The policy notes that Fort Leavenworth is part of the city.
The district will allow new administrators up to 12 months from the time they're hired to move into the city. Administrators who already are working for the district will have until July 1, 2017, to meet the residency requirement, according to the policy.
This wasn't the first time the issue has been been discussed by board members. The board had what was considered a second reading of a proposed policy last month. Changes were made to the policy after the October meeting.
Board President Nancy Klemp said the version presented Wednesday included recommendations from board members.
Board member Verna Raines said she can support requiring a superintendent to live in the city but this can be handled through contract negotiations.
She asked for evidence that the policy would make the district better.
Raines questioned why other districts aren't enacting similar policies if it is a positive thing.
"Where's the evidence?" she said.
Board member Loyal Torkelson said people have contacted him about the issue. And everyone he's talked to want administrators to live in Leavenworth.
"They want to see their administrators," Torkelson said.
Board member Mike Carney said when he previously served on the board, there was a residency requirement.
"And the people didn't have a problem with that," he said.
He questioned the rationale for reversing the earlier residency policy.
Board member Doug Darling said he believes support for a residency requirement made a difference during the last school board election in terms of who won.
Assistant Superintendent Bret Church, who doesn't currently live in Leavenworth, said from his standpoint, board members won't hear one word from him regarding the policy.
"I see the language," he said. "I see what it is."
Church was in the seat that's usually occupied during board meetings by Superintendent Kelly Crane, who was absent.
Church said a lot of school districts have residency requirements but the extension to building principals is fairly unique. And the assistant superintendent asked board members to consider whether the requirement for principals should be included in the policy.
He asked board members to try to make sure they don't connect performance with an address.
Torkelson said he's hearing from people that they want principals to live in Leavenworth because the administrators don't get out in the community.
Page 2 of 2 - "I think it would be a nice thing to try it," Klemp said of implementing the policy.
Klemp said she believes people will be proud of administrators if they live in the city.
Board member Paul Kittle said he does what he believes is right for children.
He asked if board members are prepared to pay people money to buy a home in the city.
He asked about the length of contracts for principals.
Church most of the principals' contracts are one-year contracts.
"Who would move here for a year if it weren't mandated?" Kittle said.
Kittle said he would like to hear board Vice President Marti Crow express her views on the issue. Crow was absent.
Kittle said he requested the issue be postponed again but Klemp had refused.
Klemp said she'd emailed Crow about possibly participating by teleconference but didn't receive a response.
The policy, which included a residency requirement for principals, passed 4-2 with Raines and Kittle voting against.