Cossey tabbed as new leader for Guy-Perkins School District

By Tammy Keith Originally Published March 7, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
Updated March 7, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Brian Cossey, 35, of Greenbrier came to the Guy-Perkins School District four years ago as K-12 principal. He was unanimously chosen in February to be superintendent, beginning July 1.

Interim Superintendent Brian Cossey said that when he attended the Guy-Perkins School Board special meeting Feb. 23, he expected members to set up interviews for applicants, but instead, board members unanimously voted to hire him.

Cossey, one of 21 superintendent applicants, said he was somewhat surprised.

“They did review all the applications,” Cossey said. “It wasn’t that they weren’t impressed by a few, but it was a good vote of confidence for me.”

Cossey, 35, of Greenbrier received a two-year contract, beginning July 1. His salary will be $93,078.

He was the K-12 principal for four years prior to being named interim superintendent in January when Superintendent David Westenhover resigned, effective at the end of the school year, and was placed on paid administrative leave.

Westenhover was arrested and charged in Faulkner County Circuit Court with two felonies, including theft by receiving for allegedly having a stolen weapon on campus, as well as misdemeanor charges. Westenhover’s son, Joshua, was also arrested.

“I have nothing against the former

superintendent,” Cossey said. “I do want the focus to be the kids, the school, the teacher, the education that we’re able to offer up here in this district.

“The thing is, the previous administration here — the one thing I can say is we’ve got good buildings, and we’ve got money,” he said.

“It sure makes it easy for me to transition in.”

Assistant K-12 Principal Damon Teas is serving as interim principal.

Cossey said at the board’s regular meeting on March 14 that the board will discuss how to proceed with the principal’s position.

School board president Chris Acre said, “[We] felt like we owed it to the patrons” to solicit other applications for superintendent.

However, “we decided he was the best candidate,” Acre said. “We know something about him.

“He’s been our interim superintendent, and we like the job he’s doing. He’s enthusiastic, a hard worker,” Acre said.

Acre said Westenhover owns a trailer on campus, and “to my knowledge,” still lives in it. “June 30 is his last day,” Acre said.

Cossey said he has short- and long-term goals for the district.

“As far as immediate goals, I want to ensure we’re doing an above-average job, a great job, of implementing the new Common Core state standards,” Cossey said.

“I want to ensure that we’re pushing forward with technology, not only for the benefit of the kids and teachers, but to prepare for the new online testing that’s going to come with Common Core,” he said.

Cossey said the timeline isn’t set in stone for the online testing, but it won’t be this fall.

“Last year alone, our fifth-grade scores were seventh best in Arkansas in math and literacy,” he said.

“We have grades every year that are above 90 percent proficient and advanced, so I feel like we’re still pushing the bar academically.”

Cossey said facilities are in “real good shape” in the 420-student district.

A third- through sixth-grade facility opened in 2009, he said, that includes classrooms, offices, space for art and music, and a cafeteria.

“We do have a few small building projects in mind,” he said. “The one I want to do right away, and maybe even do this summer, is a renovation to lower elementary, the K-2 building.”

He said the school was built in two sections, and the new part is the one that needs “a big facelift.”

“I want to improve the lighting, replace or cover some of the older walls, put some new ceiling tiles in to brighten it up,” he said.

“My thinking is, kindergarten through second grade — that’s where we set the foundation,” Cossey said. “That’s one of the older buildings on campus, and I want to update it and maybe even get some new technology down there.”

Cossey is a native of Bradford. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and earned his superintendent’s certification through Harding University in Searcy.

Prior to coming to the Guy-Perkins School District, he served as assistant principal at Greenbrier Middle School; basketball and fast-pitch softball coach in the Atkins School District; basketball and baseball coach in the Marshall School District; and principal at England High School. He is married to Pamela Hiegel Cossey.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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