Fred Rhodes is coming home to the place where his career in education started.
Rhodes was hired as Putnam City school district superintendent on Thursday by a unanimous vote of the five-member board of education. He is currently an assistant superintendent for Yukon Public Schools.
On July 1, Rhodes will succeed Paul Hurst, who will retire June 30.
Rhodes will be paid $158,000 per year.
“Putnam City has been home for me for a long time,” Rhodes said. “I did my student teaching here, and I was an assistant principal in a couple of schools. I opened Will Rogers Elementary in 1983. I've spent 29 years and sent two sons all the way through, and my wife teaches at Lake Park.”
The board interviewed nine applicants and brought six candidates back for second interviews, board President Tammy West said. In the end, Rhodes' familiarity and history with the district was important.
“Dr. Rhodes has shown amazing leadership,” West said. “We wanted someone who would hit the ground running and maintain the momentum we've had in our schools. And we wanted someone with fresh eyes and a different perspective. He has all of those qualities.”
Rhodes has been at Yukon for eight years. In that time, the district passed several bond issues and built a new high school on a 110-acre campus. He said he expects the same momentum at Putnam City.
“Both districts attract people with high expectations of their school system,” he said. “Both are progressive. I'm thrilled about the recent technology bond that passed. Demographically, the districts aren't much different. Both have strong support from parents.”
Rhodes acknowledged that the new state core education requirements and the consistent funding shortage will continue to be a challenge.
“Every district is going to face funding issues, and we have some major concerns about that for the future,” he said. “It takes funding to implement those changes, and we are very concerned about that moving forward.”
Rhodes holds a doctorate in educational administration from Oklahoma State University, a master's degree in counseling psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma and a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Oklahoma Christian University, according to a news release from the school district.
During his tenure at Will Rogers Elementary, the school received the prestigious Blue Ribbon School Award from the U.S. Department of Education.