Superintendent Mike Couch has accepted a job offer from Republic County School District USD 109 and will begin his new post in fall 2013.

Superintendent Mike Couch has accepted a job offer from Republic County School District USD 109 and will begin his new post in fall 2013.

Speaking on Tuesday afternoon Couch explained that his move was motivated by a “financial challenge” which prompted his applying for a number of vacant positions in December, including the Republic School district and the Haven School District.

“I didn’t want the Haviland school district to have to pay any more than they could,” he said. “That required me to look forward. My wife and I decided that meant we would have to move up the superintendent food chain, and that’s what we did.”

Couch accepted a contract last weekend to become the new superintendent of the Republic School District beginning this fall.

USD 474 has employed him for the past three years, serving double duty as the superintendent of the school district and principal of the Haviland grade school.

Previously he worked for the Pratt and Sedgwick School Districts.

“He has a lot of outstanding qualities,” said Brian Harris, the outgoing Republic superintendent. “I think the school board found him very personable, articulate and knowledgeable about the curriculum and programs we have here. The board also thought his management style would fit with what the community wants.”

Harris, who has been working for the district in an interim capacity for the past three school years, said the school board recently surveyed the county to get guidance on what to look for in a new superintendent.

“Mike fit a number of the qualities they were looking for,” said Harris. “He stood out.”

USD 109 board members Brian McCartney, Clay Siemsen, Kevin Milner, Phil Poppe, Layne Holmes, Andrea Fischer and Donna Ward unanimously chose Couch from a pool of three “highly qualified” finalists, Harris said.

The consolidated Republic County school district serves 480 students from Belleville, Scandia, Courtland and other rural areas of Republic County.

Republic is located north of Concordia in northeast Kansas.

It had a population of 5,385 people, according to the Republic County Economic Development office.

Last fall, Republic County overwhelmingly voted down a proposed $12 million bond to improve the Bellville campus by nearly 60 percent. Harris said school improvement is a major focus for the school board and a challenge Couch will face in his first term.

Couch will leave behind a school district that he says is “in good shape.”

Auditors have reported solid numbers and the school has received a number of awards for curriculum during his tenure.

The Haviland grade school was one of 43 schools in Kansas to receive a 2012 Governor’s Award last January. The award is given to schools who achieve state goals for reading and mathematics.

“The district is solid and solvent,” said Couch. “We’re a strong district and there are no plans to close the doors. We want to offer a strong curriculum and we’re convinced we are doing that. We are producing kids of character and we think they will have a big part in contributing to society and we’re proud of that.”

Haviland School Board President Jean Jones said on Tuesday the school board would hold a special meeting in the upcoming week to begin organizing an application process.

Jones said she expected to have a new superintendent for the start of the school year next year.

She also praised the work Couch has done during his tenure in Haviland.

“He and his family fit very well into the community,” said Jones. “He was an asset to Haviland and to the school and the kids just loved him. I just can’t think of one bad thing to say about him. He’s an outgoing person; a people person and we’re sorry to see him go, but we understand that he needs to move on.”