TV6 sits down with new Davenport Community Schools superintendent

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) -- Newly hired Superintendent of Davenport Community Schools, Dr. Robert Kobylski, sat down with TV6 Monday to talk about the future of the district.

The Davenport school board plans to sell the former Lincoln School building to a local non-profit. (Davenport School District)

Kobylski joins Davenport schools with an extensive and diverse background in education and business.

He tells TV6 he worked in the Chicago Public Schools system and also has experience with dis-proportionality issues.

Previously Kobylski worked in the securities industry, and served as a chief financial officer for multiple districts where he was a superintendent.

Kobylski says he was seeking an opportunity where his similar previous experiences were a match, and knew this was a great fit.

“The piece that really solidified my decision to come to Davenport,” Kobylski says, “was when I went through the interview process. I cycled through no less than a dozen interview committees and teams that fired numerous questions my way, but what I was impressed by was the last question in every single one of those sessions was, “how can we help?”

Kobylski says with a community as prideful as Davenport is, and a community willing to roll up their sleeves and help solve problems, it is a perfect spot for a superintendent.

“I’m excited to get to work with the community,” Kobylski adds.

TV6 asked Kobylski about his plans to address the district’s budgetary deficits, and he says last week he had the opportunity to meet with and present information to the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) in Des Moines regarding the status of Davenport’s budgeting processes.

He says speaking with the committee gave him the opportunity to lay out the plan for the future using data and numbers that were available to them.

Kobylski explains how the problem of budgeting issues were identified in Davenport Community Schools.

He says a few years back, the Davenport school system began overspending from a budgetary standpoint, and the state caught notice of this overspending. Kobylski explains this is an illegal practice from a school perspective, and as a result, the district had been asked to appear in front of the SBRC for a number of years to work their way out of the budgetary ‘hole.’

Fortunately, the superintendent says the district has been granted a year extension to get their budget in line.

He says in “year two of a two year budget cycle, where we were required to have a balanced budget, they essentially hit the reset button for us, and now we’re in year one in starting that two-year process over again.”

Kobylski explains the added time will give the district the opportunity to dig deep and evaluate the programs they have in place.

“It allows us to gather data and evaluate programs and as a district our size, we’ve had programs added to our plate in all sorts of fashions over the course of the last few years and we’re taking an inventory of the programs and initiatives we have in place. For the first time, we’re taking a look at the effectiveness of all of those programs.”

From a financial perspective, Kobylski says everything is still on the table. He explains, “We still have quite a lot of work to do on our budget and to say that some things are taken off the table, all I can say is we’re in better shape today than we were two weeks ago in terms of the SBRC.”

Kobylski is enthusiastic about the future of the district and says while the additional year they received to work on the budget is positive, the district still has “a steep hill to climb” when it comes to understanding the challenges and fixing the issues.