The Minnesota Association of School Administrators recognized Dr. Lynne Kovash, retired superintendent of Moorhead Area Public Schools, with the 2018 MASA Polaris Leadership Award this week. Kovash was honored for her leadership and a lifetime of achievement in education and the wider community during a statewide recognition ceremony Oct. 1 at the 2018 MASA Fall Conference in Brainerd, Minn.
According to MASA, Polaris, the “North Star,” themes this award because, just as exemplary administrators serve as definitive leaders, Polaris is constant and unmoving in the sky. With this award, MASA recognized Kovash for qualities such as professional courage, creation of a legacy of excellent leadership, fostering innovation, contribution through example and mentoring, and significant tenure in each position supporting district vision and affecting positive change.
“Lynne is a thoughtful, informed leader who is an unapologetic advocate for all students. She has demonstrated time and again her willingness to share her vision and passion with students and community members,” said William Tomhave, current School Board director and former chair of the School Board for Moorhead Area Public Schools. “In light of Lynne’s humble, selfless approach to her work and the positive impact of her leadership, I believe she is an excellent choice for the MASA Polaris Leadership Award.”
Additionally, Kovash will be one of four new members inducted into the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor on Saturday, Oct. 6.
Kovash spent her entire career in education with Moorhead Area Public Schools. She was a special education teacher, assistant principal, supervisor of planning and assessment, and assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. She served as the district’s tenth superintendent from July 2008 until retiring in November 2017.
Kovash’s first year as superintendent was filled with both opportunities and improvements. In 2008, the district faced declining enrollment, decreased funding, snowstorms, and community-wide flooding. The district had to make approximately $5 million in reductions. Kovash used a collaborative process to work through reductions in staff and programs. She learned to work with the Minnesota Department of Education, school staff, administration, and community members to provide the best education for students and to keep the focus on students. The district was unable to pass an operating levy referendum in 2009, so Kovash worked together with administration to develop a plan to better communicate the spending priorities of the district to community members. In November 2010, the district was able to pass an $850 per pupil operating levy. The development of the annual operating plan priorities provided fiscal accountability to the community.
Kovash led the district through a strategic planning process in 2013. The district continues to use the community-developed strategic priorities today.
In 2015 Kovash oversaw the approval of a $78.2 million bond referendum to build a new grades K-4 elementary school, build a grades 5-6 school connected to the current middle school, and make safety and security upgrades at all buildings.
Kovash implemented the AdvancEd process for continuous improvement and accreditation. She worked together with the lead administrator for the district to develop the training and processes for the first accreditation visit. The district participated in its first external review and received accreditation as a result of the first review. The process is now using the recommendations for improvement to further refine and develop district systems.
Kovash was an involved member of MASA and its national affiliate, AASA. She served as MASA president in 2014-15 and was a member of the AASA Governing Board. Kovash was also active on all four MASA committees and the MASA Foundation Board. Kovash has been active with numerous organizations, including serving as president for the Moorhead Rotary. She also served on the Superintendent Advisory Committee for the national organization EdLeader 21.
Each year, MASA recognizes members for their contribution to public education. MASA is a professional organization of Minnesota’s school leaders whose members include over 900 public education and non-public superintendents, directors of special education, curriculum and technology leaders, other central office administrators, service providers, business partners and retirees.
Ehlers, an independent financial advisory company, supports MASA’s Polaris Award.