Decatur Superintendent Finalist: ‘I am not averse to challenges’

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt October 2, 2015
David Dude. Photo provided by City Schools of Decatur

David Dude. Photo provided by City Schools of Decatur

The Decatur School Board on Oct. 2 named David Dude, the current chief operating officer for the Iowa City Community School District, as its top finalist to replace outgoing Superintendent Phyllis Edwards.

He was chosen from more than 85 applications from 38 states. For more of his biography, click here.

The board will consider approving Dude’s contract on Oct. 19.

After being named the School Board’s sole candidate for the job, Dude contacted for a short Q&A. Here are our questions and his answers.

Q: What attracted you to city schools of Decatur?

A: The way I first found out about it, is my wife is interested in Presbyterian seminary and her top three schools were Austin, and Princeton and Columbia (Theological Seminary). She kind of keeps an eye on things around those areas and when we saw the Decatur position come open, we started investigating the community more, and decided it was a really good fit for our family, so that’s what got me interested in the position.

Q: So your wife would be attending Columbia?

A: I think she would pursue that, maybe in the spring or next fall, but that’s definitely on her radar.


Q: What are the things that you like the most about the school system?

A: I love the support of the community. Obviously that’s a huge issue for any school district and it’s great to see how well supported it is. I’m really excited to see some of the kind of groundbreaking things they’ve done with the early childhood learning center, and addressing that key need of the birth to Kindergarten education. And just some of the programs they have, like the fact they are covering foreign language at the elementary level, the way all the research says it should be done, and most school districts don’t do it that way, and the work with the international baccalaureate program. Those are the things that are very exciting to me.

Q: What do you think are the school system’s biggest challenges?

A: Obviously growth is going to be a huge issue, with 6,000 students by 2020, so that’s something in terms of getting up to speed on quickly with the bond referendum and everything the day after I’m currently scheduled to start. That’s to me the biggest issue. There may be other things that come up as I start to get to know the community and start to have conversations with people a little bit more, but that’s the one that I’ve heard the most about.

Q: You’re coming into CSD at a crucial moment with the bond referendum scheduled on Nov. 3. What are your feelings about that?

A: I’m excited for the opportunity. If the bond passes, obviously that’s one direction and we’ll be focused how to implement what the bond is funding. If the bond doesn’t pass then that kind of changes the direction I go, and where we need to focus and how we need to address issues and what happened. Obviously a lot of it is contingent on what happens on Nov. 3, and I’ll act accordingly based on the outcome of that process. I’m excited either way. I am not averse to challenges. Whatever happens, we’ll move forward.

Q: What are your feelings about charter schools?

A: I haven’t had a lot of experience with charter schools, because that’s something in Iowa we haven’t really moved forward with. So, that’s one of my learning opportunities to figure out a little bit more about the charter system in Georgia.

Q: So you’re going to be getting up to speed on that as well?

A: Yes.

Q: What got you into education? What drew you into the field?

A: Great question. It really started in college. I started as a physics computer science major and thought I was going to be an engineer or something like that, and I got a work-study job as a math tutor and just really fell in love with it, and realized that was my passion was education. So I switched to a math secondary education major and never looked back. I was a teacher for 11 years and I loved every minute of it. That was the turning point for me in college when I had the opportunity to actually do some teaching.

Q: Do you see the Decatur job as a long-term career opportunity, or do you see it as the stepping stone to something bigger?

A: Absolutely a long-term career. I have three little kids ages 9, 6 and 4, and when we look at the possibility moving the family, we don’t take that lightly. That’s a big deal for us. It’s definitely a long-term situation we’re hoping for. Obviously with my wife looking at seminary, some people look at that and wondered does that mean … we’re going to leave, and that is not our intent whatsoever. We hope our kids graduate from Decatur High.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Eric

    I’m getting positive vibes. My initial take is we have a winner.

  • Fingers crossed

    I love the fact that this candidate would have 3 children going through CSD and would be experiencing for himself as a parent the strengths and weaknesses of schools, curriculae, school schedules, classroom sizes, IEPs/504 Plans/special ed and gifted programs if applicable, PTA/Os, school leadership teams, parent involvement, teacher turnover, school buses, classroom trailers, IB and IB grading, evolving state math curriculum, middle school and high school athletics, senior project, student/guidance counselor ratios, etc. That would be a valuable perspective for a superintendent.

    • Dec30030 Teacher

      I agree 100%. This will be a great shift for our community. My fingers are crossed as well.

  • Chris Billingsley

    I heard Iowa is a lot like heaven (Field Of Dreams).

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