by Alan McArthur
It has been his dream since becoming a teacher. Now Dr. Mike Reik is superintendent of the Platte County R-3 School District.
The current assistant superintendent was hired by the board of education on Dec. 18, after what the board described as a nationwide search process.
The 36-year-old Reik will take over the position after Dr. Mark Harpst retires from the position at the end of June.
Reik said he has wanted to be a leader, and as superintendent the only positions higher are the board of education.
“I always felt I had the skills for leadership,” said Reik. “I led my peers as a teacher and have had a desire to lead on a large scale.”
Reik began working in the district at Barry School and Platte City Middle School as an assistant principal in 2001. He began working in his current assistant superintendent position two years ago.
Reik had a salary of $108,325 as assistant superintendent and will receive a salary of $125,000 as superintendent. Harpst currently has a salary of $165,000 as superintendent.
Reik said the biggest challenge facing the district is growth.
“There will be a need for separate buildings,” said Reik. “Even in this housing market the district has still grown five percent a year. That's about half an elementary a year. Growth is a challenge--it has been for the last eight years.”
Another challenge is the bonding capacity for the school district, according to Reik. A school district may only have outstanding bonds at 15 percent of the total assessed valuation of property in the district.
“In a growing district it is hard to work in the state law,” said Reik. “The last bond issue for $8 million close to maxed out (the capacity). Every building project pushes the 15 percent.
“Dr. Harpst and the board have done a good job managing. We have not had an operating levy increase in some time. They have done a good job of making it manageable.”
Reik said his plan for at least the immediate future is to carry out the Pirate Pathways plan.
“I will continue the work done to this point,” said Reik. “If you look back 5-7 years, it will look similar for the next 5-7 years. I will engage the school board and community in crafting a plan for the long term. I immediately plan on carrying out the goals outlined in the Pirate Pathways.”
Reik said his goals for the district are to raise student achievement and help staff members have a challenging and rewarding career.
“I'd like to cultivate a climate with the staff that will provide a challenging, yet rewarding career for everyone,” said Reik.
Before working for the district, Reik was an elementary school teacher in the Liberty School District and previously worked in the Peoria, Ill. school system teaching art, music, and third grade.
One of the things Reik misses the most about not being a teacher is the interaction with the children in the classroom.
“Everyday I miss bonding with the kids,” said Reik. “I look forward to that experience with my son.”
He lamented that as superintendent he gets to meet the children, but not get to know them like a teacher does.
“I get to talk with the kids, but it's not the same. I have considered going back (to teaching) at some point. But my intention now is to be superintendent.”
Reik said he has anywhere from 15-18 years left in his working career and can see himself staying at the superintendent position.
“Every year the school board renews my contract I'll be in a celebrating mood,” said Reik. “My wife was born and raised here, we like living in Platte City.”
In addition to receiving the top job at R-3, Reik recently also became a father when his wife, Ashley, gave birth to Sayer Michael Reik. Sayer was born on Wednesday, Dec. 17, the next day Reik was hired by the board. He was born at St. Luke's Northland Hospital on Barry Road and was 8 pounds and 21.5 inches long.
“I have a new focus on my family now,” said Reik.
Reik is originally from Illinois and said his parents still live there, however his two sisters have also moved to the Kansas City area and one even lives in the R-3 School District.
“I have a niece in the school district in kindergarten,” said Reik.
Harpst does not retire from the district until the end of June, so Reik said he plans to learn as much as possible from Harpst until then.
“I am looking forward to soaking up everything I can from Mark,” said Reik. “Having this time allows for time for overlap. The next six months I plan on working with him.”