Bryan Rausch, Superintendent of Liberty-Perry Community Schools, was named 2017 Superintendent of the Year for District VI by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents.
Rausch has been superintendent at Liberty-Perry since 2008. In times of financial cutbacks, Rausch has maximized resources without cutting programs. Cost-saving measures include reducing energy costs, refinancing debt, eliminating three of the district’s 18 bus routes, and extending the life of buses with improved maintenance. Liberty-Perry Community Schools has attracted students from other areas, with transfers representing 30 percent of the current enrollment of 1,200 students. Rausch earned three degrees from Ball State University and previously served as principal of Wapahani High School.
Following is an interview with Superintendent Rausch conducted by Jim Freeland.
Jim: Which programs or activities to improve student learning do you consider to be your most successful?
Bryan: Our school district does a good job of focusing on each student’s individual learning through the use of technology. Our district is 1:1 with iPads in grades 4-12. The technology has allowed us to bring a new level of excitement and focus on teaching standards.
I am also very proud of the implementation of the CLASS program at Selma Elementary School. The implementation of the program has allowed our staff to use a common learning language and focused our attention on both individual learning styles and student outcomes.
Jim: What have been your most significant challenges as a superintendent and how have you dealt with them?
Bryan: The most difficult challenge I have had to deal with is financial. Early in my superintendency I was charged with closing an elementary school and cutting several staff members. This caused our district to reevaluate what was important to our students and community and to make further changes. Fortunately, we have been able to turn things around and have hired almost all of our staff members back that were cut. It was a very difficult time but we are now glad we went through the difficult time as we are now a better district for it.
Jim: If you could improve one aspect of K-12 Education today, what would it be and what changes would you make?
Bryan: I believe in our county we need to do a better job of taking care of our students both mentally and socially. In many schools our counselors have become test coordinators or test administrators and do not have time to help students through difficult times or guide them into a career that makes sense for both the market and student. We need to remember that children face many challenges beyond what has been written in the curriculum guide.
Jim: What advice would you give aspiring or beginning superintendents?
Bryan: I would tell beginning or aspiring superintendents to not rush into decisions. The decisions you make are very important and require much thought or investigation. I would also let them know it is a good idea to get to know other superintendents. I have found in my career as a superintendent that other superintendents have been very helpful and are willing to do almost anything to help me along the way. Superintendents are always willing to help and are many times the only people that understand the complexity of the decisions you are making.