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Harwood named Deputy Commissioner of Fiscal and Administrative Services

Harwood named Deputy Commissioner of Fiscal and Administrative Services

Dr. Frank Harwood, a former teacher, principal and superintendent with 30 years of experience in public education, will begin his duties as Deputy Commissioner of Fiscal and Administrative Services at the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) on Friday, Jan. 12. 

Harwood is taking the helm of KSDE’s Fiscal and Administrative Services division following the Dec. 8, 2023, retirement of Dr. Craig Neuenswander. 

The Kansas State Board of Education approved Harwood for the position following an executive session on Tuesday, Jan. 9. 

“We are excited to have Frank join our KSDE team,” said Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson. “He brings a wealth of school finance and operation knowledge with 30 years of public education experience.” 

Harwood is filling a position previously held by Neuenswander, who worked at KSDE for 11 years, the last three as Deputy Commissioner. Before that, the position was held by Dale Dennis for more than 40 years. 

Harwood, who was born in Lawrence and raised on a farm in McLouth, has been serving as interim CEO at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence. Before that, Harwood spent seven years as superintendent for De Soto Unified School District 232. 

“I retired in June 2023,” Harwood said. “But I felt like I could continue to be of service.” 

He accepted the interim CEO position at Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence in November 2023 but made it clear that he didn’t plan to apply for the permanent position. So, when he heard that KSDE was accepting applications for Deputy Commissioner, he applied. 

Harwood grew up on a farm in McLouth. His father, Arnold, was a school board member and raised dairy cattle and later had dryland row crops. His mother, Ruby, worked for the Jefferson County Health Department as a nurse and served in many of the area school districts. 

“I grew up in small-town Kansas,” Harwood said. “I’m the youngest of five. I have three sisters and one brother.” 

After graduating from McLouth High School, Harwood attended The University of Kansas. 

“My first major was radiation biophysics,” he said. “I was going to go into nuclear medicine.” 

That all changed when Harwood realized he didn’t like watching people be stuck with needles. He decided to become a secondary science teacher and received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. He student taught at Santa Fe Trail USD 434 in Carbondale and at Highland Park High School, Topeka USD 501. 

Harwood earned his master’s degree in curriculum instruction in 1991 from KU and worked at the university for two years as a residence hall director. He began his first teaching assignment during the 1993-1994 school year at Perry-Lecompton High School, Perry-Lecompton USD 343. Harwood taught biology, chemistry and physics, and he coached basketball and track. 

He also worked as an assistant high school principal for Leavenworth USD 453; as a principal at Central Junior High School (now called Liberty Memorial Middle School), Lawrence USD 497; and also as director of technology and chief operations officer for Lawrence USD 497. 

Harwood’s first position as superintendent was at Bellevue Public Schools in Bellevue, Nebraska. He served in this capacity from 2011-2016. His most recent position was as superintendent at De Soto USD 232. 

Harwood received his doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2019. 

In his spare time, Harwood enjoys spending time with his wife of 35 years, Jamie, and their family. Their son, Zach Harwood, who is the principal of Lawrence Virtual School, Lawrence USD 497, and his wife, Caitlin, have a 3-year-old daughter, Theodora. Kelsey Taylor, Frank and Jamie’s daughter, works for Pawnee Mental Health Services and is married to Loren Taylor. 

Harwood is looking forward to settling into his new role at KSDE. During the 2024 Kansas legislative session, he will spend time at the Statehouse testifying and sharing information with legislators. 

“It’s mostly about helping Kansas school districts,” Harwood said. “I enjoy the legislative process, too, and I look forward to learning more about it. For me, it’s mostly about helping districts navigate their budgets, answering questions and continuing to make Kansas’ education system the best in the world.” 

Posted: Jan 11, 2024,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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