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Mason City Schools Interim Superintendent to move to Arizona to lead Flagstaff schools

Michael Penca

FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA – Flagstaff Unified School District Governing Board announced that they have entered into negotiations with Mr. Michael Penca for the position of Flagstaff Unified School District Superintendent. He is expected to start July 3, 2017.

Michael Penca currently serves as the Interim Superintendent of the Mason City Community School District and is responsible for leadership of the educational programs serving over 3700 students and 600 staff. Prior to his appointment to the superintendent position in June 2016, Michael served the district for twenty years as a teacher, elementary principal and district administrator. His district leadership experiences include responsibility for special education programs, Title I and literacy supports, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and continuous improvement efforts. Michael has earned degrees from the University of Iowa (B.S.), Iowa State University (M.A.) and Drake University (Ed.S.). He is licensed for the superintendent position in the state of Iowa and is currently completing his dissertation at Drake University to earn a doctorate degree in Education Leadership.

Mr. Penca is a member of professional organizations and is active in district and community events. He currently serves on the United Way of North Central Iowa board and Early Childhood Iowa board. Michael is a member of the River City Kiwanis and Mason City Noon Rotary. His wife, Kristine, is a teacher and coach for the Mason City Community School District. They have two grown children currently attending colleges in Minneapolis and Iowa City, and enjoy spending time together riding bicycles and walking their dogs.

When contacted Mr. Penca stated, “I am excited for the opportunity to serve the Flagstaff Unified School District and community as superintendent. The Governing Board’s inclusion of students, staff and community into the interview process demonstrates its commitment to provide an excellent education for every FUSD student. My wife and I appreciate the welcome we received and look forward to making Flagstaff our home”.

Flagstaff Unified School District says it “looks forward to welcoming Mr. and Mrs. Penca to our community this summer.”

Last week, the Flagstaff Unified School District invited the community to meet the two final candidates for the position of Superintendent of Schools. There was a community forum on Wednesday March 22 in the Sinagua Middle School Auditorium in Flagstaff.

Mr. Penca was paid $163,000 this school year as the Interim Superintendent of Mason City Schools. His wife, Kris, who also works for Mason City schools, was paid $67,210.65 in the 2014-2015 school year.  Dave Versteeg was selected last year for the job of Superintendent of Schools in Mason City, leading Mr. Penca to seek other opportunities.

Mr. Penca topped Frank Chiapetti of Gallup, New Mexico, for the Flagstaff job that may have its share of trials and challenges.  According to the district’s social media page, at least 5 notes have been found in school bathrooms just this month promising violence on a “Columbine” scale.

The Flagstaff Police Department says that “on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, an additional (5th), note was located by a staff member at Flagstaff High School. The note was located in the girl’s bathroom. The note alluded to threats made in a previous note. Flagstaff Unified School District and Flagstaff High School are working closely with police to attempt to identify the person(s) responsible for these threatening notes. The Flagstaff Police Department has increased patrols and security in schools throughout Flagstaff.  On 3-8-17, a student found a note in a boy’s bathroom of Flagstaff High School. This is the first note reported to have been found. It provided a warning indicating there would be a shootout. On 3-9-17 a second note was found in a girl’s bathroom of Flagstaff High School. This note indicated there would be a “Columbine” type incident the next day or sometime in March. On 3- 20-17 a third note was found in a girl’s bathroom of Flagstaff High School. This note alluded to the date of April 20th which is the anniversary of Columbine. On 3-23-17 a fourth note was found by school staff while the building was being cleaned. It mentioned the previous notes. This incident is under investigation as a crime.”

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