Mitchell Board of Education offers superintendent job to Joe Childs

Current high school principal, interim superintendent expected to accept offer at April meeting of the board

Mitchell High School Principal Dr. Joe Childs stands for a photo on Tuesday morning in the school hallway. (Matt Gade / Republic)
The Mitchell Board of Education agreed to offer a contract for the position of district superintendent Tuesday afternoon to Joe Childs, Mitchell High School principal and interim superintendent for the Mitchell School District.
Mitchell Republic File Photo

MITCHELL — Following a marathon day of in-person interviews, the Mitchell Board of Education unanimously offered a contract to Joe Childs on Tuesday afternoon for the open Mitchell School District superintendent position.

“We had three advisory committees who were working with us and offering us their feedback as well as the board who interviewed. It was strong support for Dr. Childs from in the interview process, both by the board and the committees who were involved,” Deb Olson, president of the Mitchell Board of Education, told the Mitchell Republic following the adjournment of the meeting. “We feel that he will be the one that will be able to move Mitchell to the next level.”

When reached by phone, Childs told the Mitchell Republic he had verbally accepted the contract and was preparing to become the next full-time superintendent of the Mitchell School District. The two-year contract offered by the board Tuesday afternoon is for 2023-2025 and is in the amount of $175,000 for the first year.

He was thrilled to be able to continue to impact student learning and help guide the Mitchell School District into the future.

“I’m very excited about it. I look forward to this opportunity to continue to work specifically with our students, our faculty, our staff and the entire Mitchell community,” Childs said. “ I guess I've always felt this calling to have the greatest positive impact on education, and how lucky are you to think you want to be a superintendent, and then get into a position where you get this dress rehearsal and get this experience and know you still want to continue to work for this community and these students? So I feel like I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have that.”


Childs has served as Mitchell High School principal since 2013 and as interim superintendent since January following the resignation of longtime superintendent Joe Graves. He has spent a total of 17 years in the district in various other teaching and administrative positions.

Olson said the board will again take up the matter at its regular meeting in April, which is currently scheduled for Monday, April 10 at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy. She said the board will be prepared to accept a signed contract from Childs at that time.

“We expect there to be a contract that he will sign to approve at our April meeting,” Olson said.

The fact Childs has served with the district for years will hopefully allow him to make a smooth transition to the full-time superintendent role, Olson said. There is a lot on the district plate right now, including the upcoming $17 million bond issue vote the board approved at its Monday evening meeting. There are also the ongoing preparations for the 2023-24 school year as this current school year draws nearer to a close in May.

“Obviously, there are things we need to do in our district to get prepared for next school year and we feel like this is an advantage for him to be in that position already so he can hit the ground running and fill open positions and all of the things that come with the next school year,” Olson said.

Childs ended up being the best choice out of a group of excellent candidates, Olson said.

“We were so pleased with each of the candidates. We couldn’t have asked for a better pool to pick from. We had four good candidates that we interviewed,” Olson said.

I’m very excited about it. I look forward to this opportunity to continue to work specifically with our students, our faculty, our staff and the entire Mitchell community.
Joe Childs, interim superintendent for the Mitchell School District

Childs said one of his first priorities will be helping the board get solid, unbiased information about the upcoming bond issue vote out to the public, as well as addressing the need for a new full-time high school principal. He expected that position will be advertised as a vacancy and a similar process to hire a new principal will take place in the upcoming months.


“One of the key focuses will be the bond issue. The district will be busy just making sure there are facts and unbiased information for people available so they can make the most informed decision they can about how they want to proceed, or if they want to proceed, with a bond referendum at the June 6 election,” Childs said. “So that will be a focus, and just making sure that we’re filling these vacancies with quality people who can help us move in the right direction. And that’s a task that is incredibly important for the school district."

The day’s itinerary was dominated by two rounds of individual candidate interviews with members of the district administration, faculty and staff, community members and parents and the board of education each taking time to conduct interviews. The schedule for the day also included a group lunch, candidate exit discussions and tours of both the school campus by school officials and a community tour led by members of the Mitchell Chamber of Commerce.

Olson said the process made for a long Tuesday, with the board convening at 9 a.m. at Mitchell Technical College and working through the day until approximately 4 p.m., but a successful one. She praised the members of the groups who came together to take part in the many facets of the day.

Childs was one of three interviewed for the interim job

“I was most appreciative of all the community support from the people who were involved in the interviews. For them as a community, it just shows the strong support for education in Mitchell that they were all willing to give (an entire) day of their time, and it did involve a day of their time away from jobs or classrooms or students. That just shows such support and we’re so grateful for that,” Olson said.

Terry Aslesen, another member of the Mitchell Board of Education, also praised the people on the various committees that contributed their time to the process.

“I would like to thank all the community people who were involved with this process. We had 36 other people in addition to us that were involved in interviewing and giving us their feedback,” Aslesen said.

The board returned to open session for only a few minutes at the Amphitheater at Mitchell Technical College before moving and approving to offer the contract to Childs. The board then adjourned the meeting following the 5-0 vote.

The Mitchell School District has been searching for a new superintendent after Joe Graves resigned from the position in January to take on a new role as the secretary of education for the state of South Dakota. He had been in the top administrator role for the district for over two decades.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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