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We, the undersigned leaders of community organizations in the Quad-Cities, were part of the interview process in search of a new superintendent for Davenport Community Schools. We would like to take this opportunity to share with the rest of the community what we experienced through this process.

First, we could not be more thrilled with the result. Dr. Robert Kobylski is exactly the leader we need for such a time as this. We look forward to the rest of the community getting to know him as we have through the interview process.

We asked tough questions. We asked about the budget crisis. We asked about how poverty affects a child’s ability to learn. And we asked about uneven results for students of different demographics.

Each of the final candidates gave good answers to these questions, telling us what they would do. But Dr. Kobylski consistently told us about what he has already done in his previous experiences. He walked us in detail through how he manages tight budgets. He has experience as a teacher, curriculum director, principal, superintendent, and even athletic director, and he also shared with us his personal experiences with special needs children. And when he described the results he achieved addressing disproportionality that not only brought the performance of different student groups closer together, but the performance of each demographic improved, that was all some of us needed to hear.

We are in a budget crisis, and Dr. Kobylski has an extensive financial background. We are under the microscope of the state Department of Education, and he has experience taking over a school system that was on the state watch list. We have a major problem with disproportionality, and Dr. Kobylski previously led a school system out of having the most disproportionate results in the state of Wisconsin.

He knows what he is getting into, and he wants to come here. He did not need a job. He was perfectly happy where he was, and his current school system had just extended his contract. But that school system is on a trajectory of success and has a succession plan in place. His passion is in restoring school systems such as ours. We are the only school system to which he applied. He is the perfect match for what we need, and we are the perfect match for him.

We commend Davenport Schools for conducting a very effective selection process. The search firm presented great candidates. Contrary to some reports, this was a very open process. Each of the finalists went through a full day of interviews, with dozens of different people, organizations and stakeholder groups represented. We submitted the questions for our interviews. Those interviews were videotaped and put online, which anyone who wanted to was invited to watch and submit their feedback to the board. Other than a public interview, which could easily get out of hand, we do not know how the process could have been more open. And we are delighted, impressed and excited about the result.

We look forward to working with Dr. Kobylski on the tough work that lies ahead. We face some daunting challenges. But our future lies in the education of our children. Only by the entire community working together can we make Davenport Schools the best they can be. But Dr. Kobylski has inspired us that there is a path forward that leads not only to addressing the current crises, but to making our schools vibrant hubs of the community rooted in the belief that every student can achieve at high levels.

Congratulations, Dr. Kobylski. Welcome to our community.

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Karrie Abbott, United Way of the Quad Cities

Rusty Boruff, One Eighty

Tim Chen, Davenport Schools Foundation

Nicole Cisne Durbin, Family Resources

Amy Groskopf, Davenport Public Library

Jay Justin, Big Brothers Big Sisters

Ralph Kelly, PUNCH

Vera L. Kelly, Metro-Com Davenport NAACP #4019

Brad Martell, Scott County YMCA

Mike Miller, River Bend Foodbank

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