By Joel Phelps
UPDATED FRIDAY, FEB. 25
Dr. Karla Neathery, superintendent of Arkadelphia Public Schools, has accepted a position to lead the Sheridan Public School District, which announced late Thursday that Neathery — who has led Arkadelphia Public Schools since summer 2019 — accepted the top administration spot at the Grant County school.
Neathery accepted the position within 24 hours of the Arkadelphia Board of Education’s special-called meeting in which school board members met in executive session to discuss the superintendent’s contract. After an hour behind closed doors, no decision was made.
In an email to The Arkadelphian, Neathery wrote, “Thank you to the APSD board for giving me the opportunity to serve the students, staff, families and community. I am very thankful for the relationships I developed with some great people in Arkadelphia. The district, community, staff and students have been supportive, respectful and professional. I will miss you all dearly!”
She will assume the Sheridan position on July 1. The school board released a statement later, saying it was “saddened” at Neathery’s departure.
Board president Dr. Casey Motl said the board presented an “immediate counteroffer” upon learning of her offer at Sheridan. “But in consultation with her family she determined that her time in Arkadelphia would indeed draw to a close at the end of this contract year.”
“No one who witnessed the transformation of the Arkadelphia Public School District over the last three years could be surprised that another district would take an interest in recruiting her to its service. In only three years’ time, Dr. Neathery has demonstrated visionary leadership that took a district struggling with financial liabilities and declining enrollment and replaced it with stability, prosperity, and a renewed enthusiasm among both district employees and the community at large. We are a district transformed for the better, and Karla Neathery has been an instrumental part of that transformation. We know the people of Arkadelphia will join us as we declare our gratitude for her outstanding service to our students, our staff, and our community.
“We wish her nothing but continued success in this next chapter of her professional life. Now the Board and the district must turn their attention to the search for a successor, and we do so with full confidence in the APSD leadership team. Arkadelphia Public Schools boasts talented, passionate, and capable people ready to build on the momentum that we now enjoy.
We have important ground yet to gain, including recovering student learning losses imposed by the conditions of the pandemic, but our district grows stronger by the day, and we consider the opportunity to lead it as Superintendent to be more attractive than at any time in recent memory.
The Board of Directors invites all qualified candidates to submit letters of interest to Superintendent’s Office Administrative Assistant Rendi Currey at email@example.com; an official advertisement detailing the required application materials will soon be forthcoming. The Board also welcomes input from the community regarding potential candidates; please contact any board member to share your thoughts. We are confident that if we work thoughtfully and diligently—and most importantly, together—we will find a worthy successor and forge forward toward the bright future that now beckons before us.”
From Sheridan School District’s website:
“Dr. Karla Neathery has been hired as superintendent for the Sheridan School District by unanimous vote of the Sheridan school board. The announcement was made at a special called board meeting Thursday night.
Dr. Neathery currently serves as superintendent of the Arkadelphia School District, where she has been since 2019. She will begin her duties at Sheridan starting July 1. Dr. Jerry Guess will continue as the district’s interim superintendent until that time.
Dr. Neathery has almost 30 years of experience in education. Her career began as an elementary school teacher at Salem Elementary in the Bryant School District in 1992. Prior to her position with Arkadelphia, she had served in various roles with the Bryant and Benton school districts.
From 2012-2019, she was assistant superintendent for the Benton School District and served four months as interim superintendent at Benton during 2016. Among other honors, in 2014 Dr. Neathery was named the Arkansas Curriculum and Instruction Administrator of the Year.
Dr. Neathery graduated from Benton High School and received a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University. She has advanced degrees from Henderson State University and a doctorate from the Arkansas Tech University.”