March 29, 2023

Final superintendent interviews to be held Friday

Following the Clarke Community School District Board of Education’s approval of superintendent Dr. Alan Dykens’ resignation at the Nov. 14 meeting, the board enlisted the services of Grundmeyer Leader Services in the search for a new superintendent.

Stakeholder interviews were held in late 2022, with interested members of the community and school present to offer their input, and four finalists have been selected for consideration by the school board: James Craig, Kurt DeVore, Chris Fenster, and Michelle Lettington.

Press release

The following information about each superintendent finalist was supplied in a press release from the board:

“• [James] Craig currently serves as superintendent of the Sibley-Ocheyedan CSD, where has expanded mental health services for students and families and regularly participates in IEP meetings to help students with behavior goals reach academic success.

Craig is actively engaged in the community and uses a vlog to keep the district and community updated. He is the current vice president of the School Administrators of Iowa Northwest region and a member of the Representative Council. Previously, Craig served as principal and 504 Coordinator at Southwest Valley High School.

• [Kurt] DeVore is the current superintendent of the Lone Tree CSD. In this position, he has led all district professional learning to improve culture and climate over the past two years, as well as facilitated district strategic planning with the district core and administrative teams.

DeVore has been involved in professional organizations like the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) and Rural School Advocates of Iowa. He previously served as director of information, systems, and instructional technology in the Decorah CSD.

• As the current superintendent of Southwest Valley Schools in Corning and Villisca, Iowa, [Chris] Fenster has collaborated with local law enforcement to place a school resource officer on the district’s east campus and increased course offerings in areas of dual credit, advanced placement, career and technical education, and apprenticeship.

He is also involved in the executive leadership of the SAI and the Iowa Superintendents Finance and Leadership Consortium. Fenster previously served as superintendent of North Linn CSD.

• [Michelle] Lettington is the associate superintendent of teaching and learning services in the West Des Moines CSD, where she has provided leadership and coordination of PreK-12 curriculum and instructional programs and has collaborated with all stakeholders to maintain a focus on student learning.

Additionally, she served on the SAI’s Iowa Standards for School Leaders Focus Team for four years. Lettington was the previous director of elementary schools in the Des Moines Public School District.”

…As a next step, the board and stakeholder interview teams will conduct final interviews with each of the four finalists on Friday, February 3. The board will then discuss the candidates and reach a final decision soon after the formal interviews.

The next superintendent will begin serving the Clarke Community School District effective July 1, 2023.”


Dykens was hired as superintendent of Clarke Community Schools in April of 2021, and started July 1 of the same year.

In a statement dated Nov. 16, Clarke Community Schools said in part,

“We would like to thank Dr. Dykens for his dedication and contributions to Clarke Community School District and wish him and his family the best as they embark on new adventures. We will continue to work closely with Dr. Dykens to ensure a seamless transition and continued success for our students and staff.”

Prior to Clarke, Dykens had been the principal of Lamoni Community Schools. He was hired as Clarke superintendent after the retirement of Steve Seid in 2021. Dykens’ resignation will be effective June 30, 2023.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.