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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Prairie View vote reveals board division

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

LA CYGNE – The Prairie View USD 362 Board of Education met in a marathon special session lasting nearly eight hours on Thursday, Feb. 23, as it interviewed three of the four candidates for the district superintendent position.

Approved minutes indicated that the board began interviewing candidates at 4 p.m. that afternoon and did not finish interviews until 9:15 p.m. However, the board apparently deliberated for more than two hours before emerging from executive session to extend a contract to Chris Johnson of Crane, Mo., on a narrow 4-3 vote. Johnson is the superintendent of Crane R-III schools.

Voting for Johnson were board members Richard Gravelle, Brad Stainbrook, Bryan Uphoff and Russell Pope. Those voting against hiring Johnson were Wade Teagarden, Rita Boydston and Brad Heide.

By extending a contract to Johnson, the board hired the first woman superintendent in the history of the district since it was consolidated more than 50 years ago. She brings 11 years of experience as a district superintendent to the position.

The board’s decision was announced publicly on the district’s website and Facebook on Tuesday, Feb. 28, presumably to give Johnson time to notify her board.

Candidates under consideration were Johnson, current Prairie View assistant superintendent and high school principal Joseph Hornback, and current Pleasanton USD 344 Superintendent Travis Laver. Another candidate, John Whetzal, superintendent of Riverside USD 114 in Wathena, Kan., was interviewed two days prior to the final interviews.

Johnson earned a doctorate and education specialist degrees from the University of Missouri in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. She also has a master’s in Elementary Education from Central Methodist University and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo.

She has served as head of the Crane R-III school district for the last eight years. Prior to that she served as superintendent of the Paris R-II school district in Paris, Mo. She served as a principal at Paris Elementary School for two years, and she taught for 15 years in three different schools in Missouri.

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