Andrew Rikli spoke with retired board members and other people in the community days before the Papillion-La Vista School District held interviews for two finalists to replace superintendent Rick Black.
The 39-year-old currently resides as assistant superintendent for Westside Community Schools in Omaha, a district with 6,000 students. Rikli said he hopes to be able to jump to Sarpy County.
“I know the other candidate is a very strong candidate, so I have my work cut out for me,” he said. “In some ways it’s a little like the NCAA basketball tournament. You win one game, and you’re back to square one so you’re preparing like it’s a whole other ball game.”
In an initial interview with the board, Rikli showed intimate knowledge of the Learning Community. He applauded the freezing of district boundaries for the law and he admitted his Westside financially benefits from the legislation.
As the government relations liaison for Westside, his current responsibilities include interacting with local officials and state senators.
While saying he was on a “first name” basis with many Douglas County politicians, Rikli admitted that he wasn’t as familiar with those who represent Sarpy County.
However, he said he does not favor the Learning Community’s financial distribution, governance and transportation rules. He said the money could be used toward additional staffing, equipment and salaries for Papillion-La Vista educators.
“Finance is a deep concern that I have with the Learning Community,” he said.
Rikli said the school district is an “outstanding one” and doesn’t need overhauling. His goal is to be highly visible during his first 90-days as superintendent, which will include plenty of listening and asking questions.
Rikli graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration degree in 2007. He previously was a principal from 2007 to 2010 at Sunset Hills Elementary in Omaha.
During his interview with the board, Rikli said he would move to Papillion and transfer his children to the Papillion-La Vista School District if he is selected. Rikli is married and has two daughters and one son.
Rickli displayed a strong desire for the superintendent position because he would lead the premier school district in Nebraska. He said it isn’t a “stepping stone.”
Rickli said the superintendent position isn’t a stepping stone for him.
“This is not the stop on the road to the next school district,” he said. “I don’t know where you go from Papillion.”