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Keokuk School District Hires New Superintendent

Keokuk School District
Christine Barnes

The Keokuk School Board had a busy day Monday. It held one open session, two private interviews lasting more than two hours each, and a 90 minute closed door meeting. The result: the hiring of a new school superintendent.

The last action of the day was voting 6-0 in favor of a two-year contract with Christine Barnes. Her starting salary is $158,000.

School Board President Janne Long said Barnes stood out from a field of great candidates.

“She’s very relaxed, very comfortable,” said Long. “She has turned open enrollment around where she is. Financially, they were in trouble and she turned that around. She’s done a lot of things that we were looking for.”

Barnes has been working as a school superintendent in Michigan.

Long said her first day in Keokuk will be no later than August 1, which is roughly three weeks before the start of school.

“When she gets in, she will be working with [former superintendent] Lora Wolff and meeting everyone,” said Long. “She gave us this awesome [packet] on how her first 100 days is going to go so she is looking forward to meeting people and learning the district.”

While Barnes will have to get to know the school district, she is quite familiar with the city of Keokuk.

Long said Barnes described it has her second home because her husband is from Keokuk and a couple of his relatives work for the district.

Long said she’s excited that Barnes is ready to be part of the community.

Long said Barnes also brings great communication skills and personality to the job, citing an example of how volunteers are improving her soon-to-be former district.

“She got a bunch of grandfathers together and they wanted to know what they could do. As she had maintenance people retire, she does not pay a dime for mowing grass, all the grandpas do it. They call themselves the ‘grandpa brigade.’ She did that through relationships so that seems to be a real strength for her," Long said.

Long planned to send an email to district staff following Monday night’s meeting to inform employees of the decision. She said a public reception will be held to allow the community to meet Barnes.

Barnes is replacing Tim Hood, who is leaving the district July 1 to take a shared superintendent job in southwest Iowa.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.