Iowa City School Board removes interim title, making Matt Degner district’s permanent superintendent

During Tuesday’s school board meeting, the Board of Directors issued a three year contract for Matt Degner that withdraws interim from his superintendent status.


Jeff Sigmund

Iowa City Community School District sign 1725 North Dodge St.. As seen on Thursday, Oct.15, 2020.

Grace Hamilton, News Reporter

After serving as the interim superintendent at Iowa City Community School District since last July, the school board voted to withdraw the “interim” title from Matt Degner’s superintendent position by establishing a three-year contract for his employment.

Initially, Degner’s interim superintendent contract was set to run until June 30, 2021, with an annual earning of $200,000. Degner’s new contract extends until June 30, 2024, after commencing on July 1, 2021. His annual salary will increase by $29,000, totaling $229,000 per year.

Before stepping into the role of interim superintendent, Degner has served the district since 2013 in various administrative roles

The school board allotted a period of time at the start of the meeting to hear from community members; each person could speak for four minutes about agenda items. Community members contributed differing opinions about Degner’s promotion.

“Matt has consistently reached out to the Center for Worker Justice to form a connection with our leaders and members, answer questions, and hear our concerns,” Interim Director for the Center for Worker Justice Reza Hassan said. “I have been very pleased he wanted to form a bridge and connection with the families from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Matt has shown compassion and dedication for our students and families in the community.”

Another Iowa City community contributor, Heidi Pierce, said although she thinks Degner has done an outstanding job as interim superintendent, she urged the board to vote against his contract to support a nationwide search for a diverse candidate.

“We need more BIPOC leadership in our district,” Pierce said. “While initiating a nationwide search for our district’s next superintendent in the midst of a pandemic does not seem well-timed, I assure you the time to consider applications for Black, indigenous, and people of color is now.”

Board members who previously supported the plan of conducting a nationwide search but ended up approving Degner’s contract spoke about their change of perspective.

“I was probably one of the most vocal proponents of the national search. COVID-19 changed everything for me,” ICCSD board member Janet Godwin said. “He’s [led] with grace, competence, expertise, collaboration, and transparency, and for those reasons, I’m changing my mind.”

In addition to his COVID-19 response, board members praised Degner for his commitment to pursuing equity for BIPOC students and parents in the district.

ICCSD board member Ruthina Malone said although a national search could equip the district’s administration to meet the needs of BIPOC students, she believes that Degner will continue to take the Iowa City School District in the right direction.

“It’s hard to be a person of color in this district. We need to have systematic changes occur. And for me, Matt has already made that commitment to making sure that these changes happen,” Malone said. “I do believe he knows that it’s not going to be an easy road for him either. And he’s already making those steps towards those changes, so I’m in full support of his contract.”