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The Iowa Board of Education is concerned about the incoming Davenport superintendent’s licensure snags. At Thursday’s meeting, board members questioned how the delays and change in leadership might affect the district’s progress.

Robert Kobylski was supposed to start June 1, per his contract, but after a waiver attached to his Wisconsin license was denied, he had to find another option. Now, he is working on transferring his Illinois licensure -- without any conditions, waivers or temporary measures -- and is completing coursework to address any “anticipated gaps,” which pushed his start date to July 1, at the earliest.

“Our recommendation to achieve some stability in the position of superintendent and then put all the other supports in place is to address the structure issue,” said Amy Williamson, chief of the Bureau of School Improvement. “...We do believe the lack of stability in leadership has contributed to the issues.”

Former Superintendent Art Tate resigned, effective Nov. 1, two weeks before the state ordered a Phase II visit. TJ Schneckloth filled in as the interim superintendent, and Williamson and the board praised his “terrific” work in the months since.

“An interim superintendent can’t necessarily be empowered to implement a good vision, however,” Williamson added. “So if he -- or another superintendent -- were empowered to implement a different structure going into next year, that might be a different story.”

“You have a lot of confidence in what you’re saying about moving forward,” Director Josh Byrnes said to Schneckloth. “I don’t know if you interviewed for the job or not, but boy, I tell you what, that energy and enthusiasm you just showed, that’s what we need. I’m excited to see where this goes.”

Davenport Director Julie DeSalvo said Schneckloth agreed to fill in until they could find a replacement -- even if that replacement isn’t Kobylski.

“A number of different things could happen, and you just don’t know,” she said, adding the board discussed options if the state continues to deny Kobylski his licensure. “If he doesn’t get his licensure, there’s a number of things we could do, but I’m positive he will.”

One of the options is “starting at the drawing board.”

Kobylski was one of three finalists announced for the position. One, Eric Knost, was announced as the new superintendent for Lewis Central Community Schools in Council Bluffs, Iowa one day before Davenport announced their selection. The other was Bill Schneden, current associate superintendent for Davenport; Schneckloth said Thursday he was one of the reasons “why things are moving forward.”

“Regardless of who’s coming, there’s a big pile of rocks in front of us, and we’re not setting shovels down,” Schneckloth said.

“Does [Kobylski] understand the severity of what he’s coming into? That’s what I’m nervous about, too,” Byrnes said. “We’ve all been through this, and lived through it -- he hasn’t. Does he know? Is this going to keep moving forward, with all the good energy we’ve got.”

“I don’t think I could give a perspective of what we’re going into right now,” Schneckloth said in reply. “Do I believe that he is watching and listening? He was going to try to be here today. I think he’ll have to grasp that very quickly.”

Kobylski could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Board of Educational Examiners told Kobylski it should take four to six weeks to process his new documents. Executive Director Ann Lebo said the Board does not comment publicly on individual license applications.

“We know what we would do. There are things we could do,” DeSalvo said. “… We just have to be prepared.”

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