2020 ISSA Superintendent of the Year
Kevin Lancaster has been an administrator in the small, rural Bliss School District since 1994. Over the last 25 years he has implemented several simple, yet highly effective practices that have created for Bliss a legacy of student success, high-quality education and community support.
In order to facilitate student success from the outset, Lancaster and the Bliss School Board create equity by providing all start up supplies through the school. There are no class lists and no fees expected from those who are unable to pay. No one goes without -from shoes for soccer or basketball to Professional Technical Education participation, from club activity travel to driver's education, from extra curricular activities to online classes. Lancaster's priority is to narrow the gap and level the playing field as much as possible.
"Happy teachers make happy students make happy parents make happy me," Lancaster likes to say. He believes in the idea that administrators need to build teachers and create a place where they love to come to do their job. Rather than put on professional development with high-power motivational speakers, whose message may fade the next day, Lancaster has taken a much more long-term approach to "growing our own." He recruits and retains high-quality educators and puts district money behind helping them earn higher education degrees. Bliss has mentored several school leaders that have gone on to serve as district and state-department level administrators around the state of Idaho.
Community support is evident in the fact that Bliss has passed a Plant Facilities Levy with nearly 100% approval three times during Lancaster's tenure. The approval rate is generated by the projects and maintenance on existing buildings. Lancaster feels that the district has managed resources very carefully and been able to complete massive maintenance projects on hundred-year-old facilities without additional taxes beyond that levy. Bliss patrons sustained their support and approved a bond levy to build an elementary school, which was completed in 2006.
Highlights of Lancaster's career include selection as a member of the Idaho Education Delegation to Ireland with Idaho Superintendent Marilyn Howard in 2005 and appointment to current Idaho Superintendent Ybarra's cabinet earlier this year. Lancaster appreciates dearly the wisdom, mentoring and friendships he has garnered through ISSA and IASA, as well as the Idaho High School Activities Association, whose board he served from 2002-2015.