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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Jay Dostal (left), newly hired high school principal, speaks Thursday with interim principal Steve Jacoby during a meeting of Fayetteville's School Board at Fayetteville High School. Dostal will assume his duties July 1.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The School Board approved Superintendent Matthew Wendt's recommendation Thursday to hire Jay Dostal as the new high school principal.

Dostal will begin his new position July 1.

Dostal is principal for Kearney High School in Nebraska, a position he has held since 2010. He has also served as an assistant principal for Millard North High School in Omaha, Neb., and before that as an English and physical education teacher and an assistant coach for football and girls basketball there.

Wendt said Dostal had an immediate and positive connection with students, faculty, staff, parents and community members involved in the interview process.

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"We sought a national leader and we found one. Our number one choice said yes to our offer," Wendt said. "I am thrilled to have Dr. Dostal join the Fayetteville Public Schools family. He is going to do an exceptional job."

Dostal is the recipient of the 2016 Nebraska State Association of Secondary Principals' Principal of the Year award, as well as the 2013 National Association of Student Councils' Principal of the Year award. He is a college board member delegate for Kearney High School and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

Kearney superintendent Kent Edwards said in a news release, "There is no one who has dedicated more of their personal and professional time in an effort to make a positive contribution to students, teachers and our school system. Jay has always maintained the highest level of professionalism. He is collegial and consistent in his rapport with all internal and external stakeholders. I recommend Jay at the highest of levels."

Dostal and his wife, Melanie, a special education teacher, have two children, Brenna, a high school freshman and Mason, a sixth-grader. As principal, he said he will be committed to making Fayetteville High one of the best high schools in the nation.

"My family and I are excited to begin a new chapter in Fayetteville," said Dostal. "Working together, I am positive that we can accomplish this and be a continued source of pride for the community of Fayetteville."

Interim Principal Steve Jacoby has been holding down the fort since 2017 while the School District searched for a permanent principal for Fayetteville High School. Jacoby had previously held the position for six years, retiring at the end of the 2015 school year.

Wendt thanked Jacoby for his service during Thursday's meeting.

"When I asked him to serve and return as high school principal, it was 'Yes. Absolutely,'" Wendt said. "It's not easy to be an interim, and it's not easy to be a high school principal."

Holcomb Enrollment

The district will freeze enrollment at Holcomb Elementary School, Wendt said.

"Enrollment in the district continues to increase," he said. "I've been told that more parents have completed choice applications wanting into the Fayetteville School District than the current staff who accepts those applications can remember."

There are areas in the district that are pressure points and one receiving the most pressure is Holcomb, he said.

The district is working on adding staff to the school and the building itself is overloaded, with rooms never intended for full classrooms being used as such. Traffic in the area is also an issue. The enrollment needs to come down by at least 60-70 students, Wendt said.

In the freeze, students at Holcomb can remain at the school and their siblings can also attend when they are of age.

Students of families moving in will be transferred to most likely Owl Creek, Wendt said.

"I think the big issue is here is we need to identify what is important for learning and instruction," he said. "We met with the staff, we heard them and we are responding. We will work with families; obviously every case is different. Communication is a big piece of this."

Policy Approvals

The School Board approved the addition of seventh-grade athletics.

Seventh-grade athletics will be offered at Woodland and Ramay junior high schools and will include volleyball, football, cross country, basketball, track, cheer and dance.

Athletic Director Steve Janski said, "This is going to mean unbelievable opportunities for our students to participate in and experience athletics. We are not going to be competing for a championship. It's going to be about teaching integrity, character, basic foundations, fundamentals and principles and giving the kids an opportunity to try and see if they like it."

Adding seventh-grade school sports is an idea tossed around for a while, Janski said, and many other areas of Arkansas already offer them. The big four districts in Northwest Arkansas seem to be on board, he said.

Board members voted -- though many expressed sadness over doing so -- to outsource the custodial services for Fayetteville High School for 15 months beginning March 19.

Custodial staff already within the district will be moved so that kindergarten though eighth grade and other buildings are fully staffed. This leaves a large vacancy at the high school that would be filled with staff through Services for Education.

Neil Norberg, high school social studies teacher, spoke to the board to express his respect and gratitude to his friends on the custodial staff who will no longer be a part of his life, he said. He has worked in the district since 2005.

"I am here to tell them what a great job they have done over the past 13 years," he said. "You and so many have given me a profound gift. This gift is so often overlooked and so precious. It is not until you face its end that one becomes cognoscente of its value. I am speaking of dedicating one's professional life to this community, the honor of being trust with the academic development of some of the most important members of our society: students. We are all part of this district and community in equal measure."

No custodian employed with the district is losing a job, wages or benefits, Wendt said.

NW News on 02/23/2018

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