The Columbia Board of Education announced Friday that Dr. Peter Stiepleman will become superintendent of Columbia Public Schools effective July 1, 2014.
Stiepleman has worked in the school district for 10 years and is currently the assistant superintendent for elementary education. He was one of two final candidates that took part in a meet and greet with the community this week. Stiepleman also told KBIA last week that the district has more challenges ahead as the district grows.
“One of the things that we have to be concerned about as a community is the fact that we are at 46 percent free or reduced lunch,” he said. “As a community, we’ve seen an increase of students who speak more than one language… In the past, these were typically children of visiting scholars. Now they are more likely to be immigrants, who truly are refugees. For example, we’ve gone from about 650 second language learners four years ago to 990 this year. So we’re just exploding with need.”
Board President Christine King said the school board believes there will be a smooth transition to the new superintendent.
“[Stiepleman] works well with the current board,” she said. “That’s something that an external candidate, unfortunately, just may not be able to demonstrate.”
Stiepleman was one of two final candidates that the Board of Education considered during a closed meeting Thursday night. King said the board did not make their decision lightly and discussed the finalists for more than four hours.
Stiepleman will have many roles to fill within Columbia Public Schools once he takes over the position. Not only will he select someone for his position as assistant superintendent for elementary education, but Stiepleman will also appoint a new chief academic officer after Dr. Sally Beth Lyon retires in June.
“He has the opportunity to create a team at the administration building around the goals and objectives that he wants to put in place for Columbia Public Schools,” King said.
King said Stiepleman’s new role in the school district will mean growth and development for all district employees and community members.
The position of superintendent was left open following the announcement that superintendent, Chris Belcher, would retire at the end of this June. Belcher has since accepted a position at the University of Missouri's College of Education, and will begin work there September 1.