The Red Oak Independent School Board of Trustees approved the hire of Scott Niven, current superintendent of Liberty-Eylau ISD in Texarkana, as the new superintendent of Red Oak ISD at the Tuesday, May 15, meeting.

“The board spent many hours looking at the needs of Red Oak ISD and we thought out of the box,” board president John Hawkins said. “We feel that Scott Niven and his family will be a good fit for Red Oak ISD.”

“I look forward to working with the board and the community. I think we’re going to have great years to come,” Niven said.

The search for a new superintendent began in November with the retirement of former superintendent Craig Stockstill. The board relied on a superintendent search committee to sort through over 60 applications for the job, which was narrowed down to 10 applicants. The board interviewed the 10 applicants and narrowed the pool down to four candidates, which the board called in for second interviews. From those applicants the board selected Niven as the lone finalist.

According to a biography provided by the board, Niven received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1998 and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University-Texarkana.

He has served as superintendent of Liberty-Eylau ISD since 2003 and was employed nine years as the associate superintendent for business and support operations and chief financial officer at Texarkana ISD.

As a Certified Public Accountant, Niven also worked as an accountant and auditor for Thomas and Thomas, CPAs for six years.

He is an adjunct instructor in public school finance for Texas A&M-Texarkana.

Niven has two daughters, Morgann, 14, and Makenzie, 12, and one son, Matthew, 1. His wife Christy has a master’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in educational administration. She works as an elementary principal.

In other business, the board postponed the canvassing of ballots for the trustee and bond elections held Saturday, May 12. Hawkins explained that a provisional ballot was counted with the regular votes. The ballot box was opened Wednesday, May 16, and the vote was counted. Canvassing was scheduled for Tuesday, May 22.

“The election is not official until we certify it, but we’re pretty sure that the bond passed,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins took the time to praise the work of committee members and Red Oak ISD staff who worked to spread information on the bond, thanking members of the growth management committee, associate superintendent of operations Russ Schupmann, public relations coordinator Karen Miller, Debbie Temple, interim superintendent Wilburn Roesler and superintendent’s secretary Merissa Leuty. Hawkins also thanked Karen Stanfill, head of the PAC, Don Shields and other volunteers for their time and work.

The board heard a presentation by city of Red Oak Parks and Recreation director Michael Hopping and Bill Nicholson about the Red Oak Safe Routes to School application.

“We’re applying for a grant through TxDOT,” Hopping said, saying the parks and recreation department hopes to use grant monies to construct sidewalks around all campuses in the Red Oak ISD.

“Texas has one of the highest obesity rates in the United States. TxDOT is committed to doing something about it,” Nicholson said.

In order to apply for the grant, the parks and recreation department needs commitment from the school in five areas: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.

If the school agrees to provide commitment to the project, the school would be responsible in providing some education, encouragement and enforcement in the future. Nicholson described education strategies, such as teaching a bicycle and pedestrian safety course, teaching health and environmental benefits to walking or biking or organizing a bike rodeo. Encouragement strategies would be starting a walking school bus program, hosting a walk/bike to school day, initiating walk/bike mileage club contests or initiating a safe passage walk program.

Trustee John Anderson asked what the city’s commitments include, with Hopping saying the city would be in charge of completing the grant process, organizing the plans for the project and maintenance.

Trustee Lynne Grandstaff suggested the project be proposed to campus principals in order to determine commitment.

Nicholson said the grant application was due May 25 and that the parks and recreation department would like to have the district’s decision by the end of the week. Niven said that the district administration would look at the proposal and inform the department of their decision.

“We will support our administration and staff,” Hawkins said. “If they decide to move forward, we will support that.”

The board authorized district administration and staff to evaluate the proposal and decide if the district will participate.

In other business, the board:

approved a request from AT&T for easement at Eastridge Elementary approved bids on used vehicles in the district transportation department approved budget amendments.

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