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LUHS district administrator search effort intensifies

Wikimedia Commons GPReimer

MINOCQUA – The staff at Lakeland Union High School want an experienced leader as their next district administrator and not a “newbie,” according to survey results compiled by an executive search firm.

Two representatives of Don Stevens and Associates presented their findings to the school board Monday. The results represent the opinions and wishes of more than 50 staff members, ranging from the teaching staff to administrators and support staff, including kitchen and custodial workers.

Charles (Chuck) Pursell, of the Sun Prairie firm, said many respondents, both within the school setting and the community at-large, expressed pride in the high quality of education at Lakeland. However, there is an undercurrent of concern about the district’s standing in the eyes of the public and district employees.

“We were known as the jewel of the North, and we want to get back there,” Pursell quoted a sentiment they saw. “That has slipped a little bit,” he said of the district’s standing.

Their survey covered a number of areas centered on three main issues: What are the strengths of the district; what are the challenges facing the district and the new administrator in the next 3-5 years; and what are the traits or characteristics, both personal and professional, of the new administrator in order for that person to be successful at Lakeland.

New board member Dean Bortz told the representatives, “…don’t sugarcoat things.” Pursell assured him they did not.

The two representatives will return Jan. 10 to narrow the questions that will be asked of candidates. Board members were asked to bring any additional questions and ideas to that session.

Don Stevens said they and others in their field are finding fewer candidates seeking superintendent positions. “Interest has greatly waned,” Stevens said. “But you are getting good numbers.” The deadline for applications for that job is Dec. 29.

A desire for better communication, both within the district and with the community at-large, was a major theme from survey respondents. “The new (district administrator) and the board will need to work together to reestablish community trust that appears to have diminished over the past few years and as a result of the recent pandemic,” their report notes.

To that end, the board has approved forming a district administrator search advisory committee.

The 12-member ad hoc committee will be made up of six representatives from the school and six from the community. Of that latter, one each will come from the four elementary school districts that feed into the high school. One will come from the STAR charter school and one will be a Lac du Flambeau tribal member.

District Administrator Claire Martin said all but two slots have been filled (the LdF tribe still has to name a representative). They are seeking citizens from the Lac du Flambeau School District and North Lakeland School District. Persons interested in volunteering their time to review candidates can contact the school district office or log on the district’s website for details.

Advisory committee members will need to be able to commit to two interviewing dates (Jan. 26-27) and will be part of the first round of interviews.

The board needs to have someone on board in that administrative position by June, which is when Martin’s contract as interim district administrator expires.

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