Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Daniel Thompson
Reporter 

Longtime Kimball Superintendent Troy Unzicker reflects as he departs

 


After serving seven years as the Superintendent of Kimball Public Schools, Troy Unzicker will be leaving his office in the Kimball Junior/Senior High School after a long day of work for the final time at the end of the month.

Unzicker will be taking over the superintendent position for the public school system in Alliance, Nebraska July 1.

“Sometimes I wonder, ‘Why am I leaving? It’s such a good position and I like what I’m doing here,’ but Alliance just was a good opportunity for me,” Unzicker said.

Looking back on his seven years working for Kimball Public Schools, a few memorable accomplishments come to the forefront of Unzicker’s mind. An accomplishment he considers one of the more important is the addition to the gym at the Kimball Junior/Senior High School.

“That was tremendous for Kimball. I’m very glad that went through when it did. If we had waited another year, it wouldn’t have happened. That would have hurt our kids. It’s a very great opportunity for our kids. It gets them home at night, helps our P.E. classes. It’s a wonderful deal.”

He also acknowledges that there have been a few challenges in his tenure as superintendent, especially the financial constraints that the district has faced and having to almost go into the RIF process this past year which was narrowly avoided at the last minute with veteran teachers stepping up and taking buyouts in order to give the district enough expenditure savings to keep the younger staff members.

“Having to bring that program forward, even though it was the best move for the district, I really regretted doing it, because as you start putting a RIF process on the table, that’s an individual teacher that I know very well and we’re talking about firing a teacher that I didn’t want to fire,” Unzicker said.

If he was able to go back four years ago to the time the district started having financial problems, Unzicker expresses that he may have done things a little differently to avoid the problems faced the past year.

“The only thing I would have done differently in my seven years to avoid getting into the RIF process this year is that we probably should have done that each year for the past four years as the finances were getting cut and cut those positions where we were overweight. It’s not that we had bad staff members in those areas, but we had too many staff members in those areas,” Unzicker said.

However, through both the easy and hard times, Unzicker feels blessed to have had the board and the staff that he has had during his time in Kimball.

“I’ve been blessed with a very progressive board that has looked ahead, and we’ve tried to make those cuts so we’re right. You have to make tough decisions which people don’t always like. I’ve also been blessed with a great staff. You have a staff here that has the best interest of the kids at heart versus how much money they can get in their pockets so I’ve been blessed there,” Unzicker said.

When asked what he’ll miss most about Kimball, Unzicker didn’t hesitate to express that he’ll miss the people of Kimball the most.

“I start my morning off every morning at one of the coffee shops listening to the ranchers, the bankers, the retired, and whoever sits at that table, and I get to hear the outside perspective. We also have great kids in this community. I’ve gotten some good relationships with a lot of the parents. I’m going to miss the people the most by far.”

Unzicker even offered up a few words of advice for the new Superintendent, Marshall Lewis, who will be taking over the position for the next school year.

“Get to know the people. You get in tight with the people and understand their wants and needs and keep educational interests at the forefront. Get in there with the kids and the staff, get to know their wants and needs. As you make decisions down the road, keep education at the heart of it, and you’ll be fine,” Unzicker said.

He also offered up a few parting words of advice to the people of Kimball.

“Keep working at being progressive. Don’t let a few negative naysayers run down good opportunity. You’ve got good people trying hard at the county level, at the city level, and at the school level. Be supportive, and when a decision gets made, even if it didn’t go your way, be supportive of that decision and make it work.”

 

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