Pawhuska superintendent to retire

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The superintendent of Pawhuska Public Schools informed the Board of Education last week that he is retiring, effective June 30. Superintendent David Cash is in his fifth school year with PPS.

“It was tough, but time is important these days,” Cash, 56, said in an interview. This is his 19th year as a school superintendent. He had been superintendent in Chickasha before taking on the Pawhuska job. When he arrived in Pawhuska, there was controversy in the community about the future of the school system. Students were transferring out. He and Beverly Moore, the assistant superintendent hired at the same time as Cash, have worked to develop community confidence.

“I had talked about the possibility (of retiring) for a few months,” Cash said. He explained that he rarely has an opportunity to spend time with family members.

“Mom’s 85 and I rarely get to see her,” he said. Cash explained he anticipates helping with the transition to a new superintendent. He also said that he anticipates continuing to coach girls basketball for Pawhuska High School. His most recent Lady Huskies team had a record of 26 wins, 5 losses and became the first girls basketball team in the history of Pawhuska High to qualify for state tournament competition. The 2022-23 Lady Huskies won one game in the 2A state tourney and were eliminated in the semifinals.

“I like to make things better than I find them,” Cash said, reflecting on his general approach. He said that he thinks job of Pawhuska superintendent is an appealing one.

“I think it’s a great job. The board is great, the community’s great,” he said. “I’ll just worry about girls basketball. I love the community. They’ve been nothing but good to me.”

In his most recent meeting with the Pawhuska Board of Education, held March 20, the school district received its audit report for 2021-22. The audit was clean, with no material findings. The board also received reports from two of the four school principals – Byron Cowan, principal of Pawhuska Elementary School, and Chris Walker, principal of Pawhuska Junior High. Cowan and Walker were administrators for Pawhuska Public Schools when Cash arrived and have continued to play important roles throughout his tenure with the district.

Walker, who was assistant principal at Pawhuska High, has become principal of a restored Pawhuska Junior High. The Junior High no longer existed when Cash was hired. The restoration of the Junior High – to recreate a separate space for students who are really too young to be thrust into a high school environment – has been one of a number of important changes that have occurred during Cash’s tour of duty as the top administrator.

Walker provided the Board of Education on March 20 with details about the growing success in the Junior High of another important initiative – the use of Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing to chart the academic development of students on an individualized basis. Pawhuska Public Schools, under Cash, has come to rely far more on MAP testing than on state-sponsored testing.

Cash said he thinks hiring the best possible staff members for the school district is an ongoing challenge that the next superintendent will need to successfully address.

“I think that always staffing is at the forefront,” Cash said. “It’s almost like you are recruiting all the time.”

He is also looking forward to summer basketball in June with the Lady Huskies. He recalled that the 2022-23 team made critical improvements during summer basketball last year.

“We became a veteran team overnight,” he said.