Kathy Greeneway

For over 140 years, the Yankton School District has had its school board in place since its inception in 1875. Eighteen women have served on the school board during this time, beginning with Ida Lindstrom in 1912. Kathy Greeneway currently serves as President, the sixth female to hold this position. Greeneway follows these leading ladies: June B. McVay, Mary Alice Halverson, Barb Law, Sandi Isburg and Pam Kettering.

Born in Wagner, SD, Greeneway grew up nearby in the small town of Dante. After graduating from Wagner High School, she moved to Sioux Falls and attended school at Southeast Technical Institute, completing their Data Processing Computer Programming Accounting Program. After working for a year, she decided to go back to school through the medical field in their Surgical Technology program. She worked at a couple local hospitals, and then opted to work at Citibank in Sioux Falls for better benefit options. After 10 years with Citibank, she had the opportunity to advance to a position with the Investment department and she started taking classes to obtain licenses to become a licensed broker. The last 5 years she obtained a certification for Financial Planning through an online course with Kaplain University.

Greeneway later spent some time in Hartford and Montrose, SD where she began working for First Dakota National Bank.

Through First Dakota, she had the opportunity to move to Yankton in 2002, where she still resides with her husband Dave. Their daughter Katelyn graduated from Yankton High School in 2013 and their son Evan just graduated this spring.

While their children were in school, Greeneway became in involved in the PTA. She had an opportunity to help on a couple committees, one was to review the school’s mission statement and purpose and she enjoyed the task. Feeling as though her biggest motivator is to never stop learning, she states, “If you wanted to be able to do something you had to be educated to move on and do it.” “Education is just that one piece that can take you to wherever you want to go.”

When Greeneway moved to Yankton, she joined Interchange and at that time Pam Kettering was the only female on the school board. Impressed by this, she thought she might someday like to serve on the school board. “I admired the position. I just thought that would be something I would really like to do,” she explained.

After completing a term on the Chamber board and looking for something to apply herself to, Greeneway decided to run for an open position on the school board. She was appointed to finish Dave Hosmer’s term beginning in April 2009. She is now completing her sixth year, having served two terms and will begin her third term in July. The board elects every year for Vice President and President, and Kathy has taken a spot in each position.

“Everything is changing all the time in education. That’s probably one of the reasons why I like it as much as I do because every month, or every week, we have something new that’s coming, or challenging, and needing to address how best we can get it to affect the most students that we can in the best positive way,” she explains.

Everyone’s role on the board is really the same, though the Vice President and President have a few more duties. The Vice President steps forward to chair a meeting if the President is absent. The President works with the Superintendent to plan the agenda and topics for the monthly meetings and leads, educates and provides guidance for other board members if there are questions about a policy in discussion. Handling the news and press releases, the President takes on the spokesperson responsibilities. The President also serves as a liaison between the board and Superintendent, relaying concerns and topics back and forth between parties for discussion.

Greeneway’s personal vision for her role on the board has changed over her tenure. A straightforward vision to start, she explains, “My vision for the first year that I was there was I just wanted to educate myself as much as I could to understand, because I came in not knowing anything about how a school board or how a district was run. To further educate herself, Greeneway turned to the state school board resource, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota (ASBSD). This resource center for all school boards in South Dakota offers unbiased training and classes.

Greeneway explained that it probably took her the first two or three years to understand how the board works and its functions. “I wanted to be a good steward, make sure that using taxpayer’s money the best way we could, make sure that we were doing the best we could to offer kids programs and education pieces.” She was so interested in the ASBSD that she braved the challenger for a position to serve on the ASBSD board. She won that challenge and is now a Director on this board for the Southeast region. Greeneway’s education didn’t stop there. The ASBSD offers a module designed to prepare school boards to provide successful leadership, called Governance Academy of Visionary Education Leadership (GAVEL). She completed the required courses to become GAVEL certified, explaining, “If you’re going to be a representative of education, you need to be educated.”

Once Greeneway completed her GAVEL certification and saw how much information and structure there was on board member education and training, her personal vision changed. “My vision was to bring that back to the board and certify the whole entire board, in which I completed in January. Every single member of the board is GAVEL certified.” The GAVEL training has helped them to make minor adjustments in how they run their meetings, their agenda preparation and consistency.

The five-person school board has oversight of the district, their primary role to set the district’s policy. They also review the budget at the beginning of the year, planning a year in advance while taking into consideration revenue, expenses and projected number of students. The school board’s most important responsibility though, Greeneway feels, is being objective and keeping an opening mind. She explains, “Looking at both sides before rendering a decision and making sure you have that transparency. Ultimately, you want to benefit the students to give them the best potential opportunity.”

When I asked Greeneway about the school board’s biggest challenge, she didn’t hesitate. “Funding and finances.” She explained that the school board can’t count on and rely on the consistency of the funding that is coming in because they must consider funding cuts and declining enrollment while working with the financials. She stressed the importance of education for our children, “Public education is the greatest equalizer there is out there, for every student, every child to have an education to the best of his or her ability.”

Her proudest moments during her tenure on the school board have been getting all the board members GAVEL certifi ed and the number of partnerships they have developed within the community in the last few years. The school board has partnered with the Boys & Girls Club, the City of Yankton, Police Department, Lewis & Clark Behavioral Health just to name a few. Greeneway is also proud of one of toughest changes, the attendance policy.

Though the new stricter policy was a diffi cult change for parents and students, statistics show it was a good change, delivering remarkable results in attendance.

Greeneway stated that overall absences at Yankton High School have decreased 30% and overall tardies by 56%.

Tardies accrued during classes decreased by 63% while non-attendance issues decreased by 83%.

Dr. Wayne Kindle, Yankton School District Superintendent, reflects on Greeneway’s contribution to the school board.

“Kathy’s involvement with the Associated School Boards of South Dakota has been an asset to her leadership not only as a school board member, but as school board chair.

She encouraged our entire school board to become GAVEL (Governance Academy of Visionary Education Leadership) Trained through the ASBSD, which the entire Yankton School Board accomplished this past school year. Kathy is a great advocate for the Yankton School District and wants our students to have the best education possible.”

Refl ecting on the school board, Greeneway states, “Each one of us truly has the best interest of the student at heart but yet we are very mindful of the taxpayers’ money. We have done tremendous strides at open policy at making the board members and superintendent approachable. I thank the public for letting me serve and for voting me in the two terms and I just look forward to the great things we’re going to do going forward.”