new superintendent Keith Marty took over the reins officially on July 11, though he's been visiting the district regularly since his hire was announced in January.
Patch talked with Marty this week about what's coming up in the district and how's been settling into his new role. about developing a strategic plan for Parkway's facilities and beginning ongoing testing. on early childhood education and the district's upcoming adjustment of elementary school boundaries.
We've got one more policy question—about school lunches. Then we chatted with him about how he got to Parkway and how long he might stay.
Patch: Maybe a couple months ago, we had done a lunch review of a couple of the area school districts. She was told it was because of a distribution problem—the food has to be made in one spot and then sent out to the other schools. One of our readers asked if you had thought about changing that or implementing any of Michelle Obama's initiatives to get some healthier options in Parkway schools.
Marty: That hasn't been on my radar screen. Should we be conscious of nutrition? Absolutely. And it is part of Project Parkway—that strategy of confident learners, part of that is making sure our students are safe, setting goals, eating right and taking care of themselves. And obviously we play a role in that.
But, I don't know a lot of details. I know the federal government did upgrade the nutritional pyramid for the first time in like 30 years; it was probably about time. In the district I came from, we did initiate a healthy foods and wellness committee because there was some criticism. I thought we had nice choices, but there was criticism of some of the nutritional value.
Part of it, I think, is an education thing. Pizza is always a big one—how can you keep serving pizza, people ask. But actually, pizza's not that awful as long as you don't have loads of cheese on it. Part of it's the educational piece. Part of it is being honest and sharing what we're doing. I know we do have central kitchen locations and that it's a challenge to make sure food is warm and nutritious.
Patch: Were you actively looking for another position when you applied at Parkway?
Marty: I was curiously looking. I was at a point in my career where, for personal reasons—my daughter was entering her senior year—I was getting a little itchy. You know, I spent 10 years in one place and 22 years total (in Menomonee Falls School District). Things were going very well, but I thought for me and probably for the district a change would be good.
I knew of a woman who does superintendent searches, and she happened to be at the firm Parkway had hired. So I had a bit of a connection with her, and she thought that this was potentially a good fit. So I started to examine it and got in the pool of initial candidates.
If somebody a year ago would have told me I'd be even remotely thinking of going to Missouri, I would have said what are you thinking? But it's been rejuvenating actually. I'm excited about the opportunity and the challenges here. This is a very, very good district. It's got excellent tradition, excellent academic results.
I guess I've always believed that my role as a leader is to keep that growth going. If we can in the next several years even make school successful for more students and put things in place that are sustainable so the next leadership or the next generation can enjoy what the current generation is enjoying, then I will have done my job.
Patch: I know you signed a three-year contract. Are you planning on being here beyond that?
Marty: I'd like to stay five years. If health and such allows, maybe more. I think the board was certainly interested in me staying longer than my contract. But you know I've got to be conscious of health. And obviously, it's not always my decision. Superintendents sometimes would like to stay longer, but somebody else makes those decisions. But where I'm at right now, with the way I feel right now, I'd like to stay five to seven years. We'll see how it goes.