Superintendent search projected to last a year or more, Matthew Ray named interim


Going into the next school year without Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan, many were curious about what was going to happen since the Omaha Public Schools School Board announced that it could take up to two years to complete their superintendent search.  

Well, not any longer. Matthew Ray, the Deputy Superintendent and Secretary to the Board of Education at OPS, will be the interim superintendent of OPS which will take over superintendent duties July 1. Ray has been with the OPS District for 13 years.  

According to a March Inside OPS Newsletter, Ray began teaching at Ashland Park-Robbins Elementary. From there, he served in Student Community Services and oversaw the districtwide implementation of a new student information system.  

Omaha Public Schools is Nebraska’s largest school district and one of the largest employers in our state,” Spencer Head, President of the OPS Board of Education said.We owe it to our 52,000 students, 9,000 full and part-time staff and the greater Omaha community to lead a comprehensive superintendent search and get it right.”  

Moving forward, the Board of Education is tasked with the important job of finding the perfect person to be the next district leader.  

 Omaha Public Schools is an exceptional school district,” Bridget Blevins, External Relations Administrator for the Board of Education said. “We lead among large, urban systems nationally. Specific qualities our district seeks in its next superintendent will be determined as part of the search process, including input from district stakeholders.”  

There is no exact timeline on when the Superintendent will be hired, but the decision on the firm that will assist with the search has been finalized. The Board has approved a contract with GR Recruiting to assist with the Superintendent replacement. The cost of this search firm has been announced that the consultant fee will amount to 35,000.00, half will be due on the execution of the agreement by both parties, one quarter will be due at the stakeholder meetings, and the remaining amount will be any unpaid expenses and reimbursement when the execution of the agreement between the district and the new Superintendent begins. 

As of March 6, 2023, the Board of education has decided that Ray will be the interim superintendent to help make this event easier to transition through.  

Science teacher Judi Little has been teaching in OPS for 26 years and has worked under multiple superintendents.  

“When new leadership takes over, new ideas for the district are often introduced,” Little said. “Science tells us that if you are not moving forward, you will end up going backwards so to keep the district healthy and improving, new ideas are essential. The problem is that if leadership doesn’t stay in place long enough, the changes are not completed and then we don’t accomplish any of the goals.” 

Little’s only stress factor is the Board of Education rushing the replacement when it comes to truly finding someone who cares about the OPS district. OPS always needs new ideas and ways to work, and Little wants to see positive changes.  

“I worry that when they bring in people from outside of the area, they have different values then what Nebraska and Omaha have and then we can get off track,” Little said. “I am concerned when new initiatives are put in place by one superintendent and then not carried forward. I don’t always agree with what superintendents want to do but we lose good teachers and staff when there are inconsistencies and then we can lose or lessen entire programs with changes implemented by 1 superintendent that another one might want to change.”  

Principal Darren Rasmussen has similar qualities he hopes the next superintendent will possess.   

“I would say some urban experiences and in a diverse school district just high visibility,” Rasmussen said. “I know it’s hard in the largest district with you know, 93 schools but just visibility and being transparent. Having some background knowledge of the academies, pathways, career, and technical along with open communication with staff.”  

During Logan’s tenure as OPS Superintendent, she navigated many firsts from having to handle the districts response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, to implementing career academies at all the high schools, to overseeing the opening of five schools and renovations of several others and much more.  

“It has been a joy to serve as your Superintendent,” Logan said when she announced she would be leaving. “The leadership Omaha Public Schools has exemplified at the state and national level amongst large, urban school districts is something we should all be proud of. We have a caring, committed staff, and we serve the best students.”  

For the upcoming year, Logan has expressed her support of Ray being named as her interim replacement.

“I’m so tickled for you, Matt. Know the journey ahead for you is hard, but you are up to it,” Logan said. 

Those who will be most impacted by the Board’s final decision on who to hire are students who are currently sophomores or younger.  

“I just want to see the new Superintendent care a little bit more and act like they really want to have the job,” sophomore Evelyn LeClaire said. “I want the best for OPS, and I don’t know if Logan was that.”