NEOSHO, Mo. — A Southwest Missouri school superintendent says the next school year will be his last year on the job.

“It’s time. I shared with the faculty on the last day of school that next year would be my last year,” said Dr. Jim Cummins, Neosho R-5 Supt.

Dr. Jim Cummins says he will retire from the Neosho school district in the summer of 2024.

He was hired five years ago, previously serving as a superintendent in Seneca and Wheaton.

“There are most excellent people in just about every position of leadership, and so the district will be in great shape,” said Cummins.

Neosho school board members discussed an early start to find a replacement at a board retreat… hoping to name a candidate around the end of the year.

“A lot of times when a new superintendent comes in – they have their own idea of where they want the district to go and things that they want to do. And that’s understandable. But at the same time, we’re happy with the trajectory that we’re on and we want to continue that – that’s some of our priorities when we find a new superintendent,” said Jonathan Russell, Neosho School Board Pres.

The board retreat also looked at expanding the “Wildcat Standards” program.

If approved, it would require any student involved in extracurricular activities to meet academic standards currently enforced, for example, athletes.

“There are some activities that aren’t covered by MSHSAA – and we don’t feel like it is fair to hold certain students to that standard and not hold other students to that standard. Also, it does a disservice to those students who aren’t being held to that standard,” said Russell.

The retreat also dealt with facility maintenance, educational achievement, and goal setting.

Even paying for school lunches was on the agenda, and how best to handle non-payment as federal funding for all lunches is ending.

“That gets to be a very touchy subject — especially lower elementary students. And so we have some students with $200, $300 lunch balances. As a district, we have to decide how do we handle that? I think we ended the year somewhere around $80,000 of lunch balances across 4800 students,” said Cummins.