Superintendent says farewell: Kuffel retiring in June

Claudia Loucks
Scott Kuffel stands in the new concert hall at Geneseo High School, which was part of the ProjectLEAF construction endeavor in the district. Kuffel is retiring in June.

Scott Kuffel came to Geneseo with a vision for the school district that has taken staff and students well into the 21st Century.

He was hired as superintendent of Geneseo schools in 2003 and is retiring on June 30 of this year.

Adam Brumbaugh, current superintendent of the West Carroll School District, has been hired as superintendent of Geneseo schools.

Kuffel’s tenure includes many achievements and accolades, including spearheading efforts for ProjectLEAF construction, which he said, “as much as anything we have done, truly exemplifies the mission ‘To Teach, To Learn, To Care.’”

“Being able to address issues in many different areas — fine arts, athletics, academic and administrative — has prepared the district to adapt with ever-changing student needs over the next 30-plus years,” he said.

ProjectLEAF touched every building in the school district, from renovating and updating the high school to the addition of a concert hall, theater, band and choir rehearsal areas, two new art rooms and new library, new turf field, new track and bleachers. Each of the three grade schools – Millikin, Northside and Southwest – was renovated and updated.

Included in the memories of his years with the district are “collaborating with so many across Henry County to pass the 2013 sales tax referendum and the community engagement in 2014 to approve the 2015 construction referendum.”

Kuffel also commented on the establishment of the leadership team model within the district’s teaching faculty and said, “Not only has this been recognized by different awards and requests to present at various conferences, we believe it has continued to grow in empowering of teachers to be involved with so many different decisions.

“Following the leadership model, we believe we have grown to see ourselves much more of a unit district, rather than a collection of schools,” he said. “While sometimes the ‘Kuffel Shuffle’ of staff has brought chuckles to some – the willingness and dedication of staff who have made changes to different grade levels, different content areas, and even different buildings has served to strengthen our ability to see through a much bigger lens of an entire district, rather than an individual staff member or that of even one building’s view.”

He said, “The district receiving the Magna Award, for the high school dual credit programs, and several different technology, and public relations awards has been gratifying.”

Kuffel was born in Ames, Iowa, and was raised in Kewanee. Before being named superintendent of Geneseo schools in, he was superintendent in Oregon for two years, associate superintendent in East Peoria for five years and taught and coached in Kewanee and Tremont at the beginning of his career in education.

His honors received include being named one of the “20 to Watch” by the National School Board Association for implementing technological advances for school board meetings, and throughout the district to communicate with the community.

He served as president of the Illinois Association of Administrators (IASA) in 2014, and was on the IASA board of directors for nine years.

In 2018, Kuffel was named one of 21 Superintendents of Distinction in Illinois and he has twice been chosen as Blackhawk Division Superintendent of the Year.

“My years in District 228 have been both some of the most rewarding and some of the most challenging years of my career,” he said. “The expectations and demands for top quality programs in this community are unlike any I’ve ever encountered in other school districts, and it became even more challenging in 2008 when our levels of State funding began to decline from $7 million per year to the current levels of over the past few years of $4.5 million per year.”

When asked what led him to Geneseo, Kuffel said, having grown up in Kewanee, he was familiar with Geneseo and the Quad City area.

He and his wife, Jenny, have three sons and Kuffel said, “The district offered solid opportunities for our children, and we believed the communities that comprise the geography of the school boundaries wanted to be competitive with all the districts and communities in the area. The sense of pride, entitlement and high expectations that is evident here was a challenge that intrigued us.

“We believed this was a place where amazing things could happen for students, and we wanted to be part of that movement,” he said.