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South Dakota media reports salary for West Bend’s new Superintendent


May 31, 2018 – West Bend, WI – Media in Rapid City, South Dakota posted the salary of incoming West Bend Superintendent Don Kirkegaard.

Earlier this week the West Bend School District announced the hiring of Kirkegaard, 59.

An open records request was submitted for contract details including salary, benefits, vacation and perks. Calls were also place to School Board President Joel Ongert. So far, no calls have been returned and no information received.

On May 30, 2018 Rapidcityjournal.com  posted an article about Kirkegaard by correspondent Bob Mercer.

The article talks about how Kirkegaard has ended his stay “as South Dakota’s top K-12 official five months after he began.”


“This was a very difficult decision. I have been in South Dakota my entire career and have worked with so many great teachers, students, parents and administrators,” he said.

Kirkegaard praised the state department’s “great team” and said he was “extremely grateful” to the governor for the opportunity as secretary. When his state appointment was announced, Kirkegaard said he understood the position was for one year and it was uncertain whether the next governor would retain him.

So, he began looking for another job.

“I receive announcements from several different recruiting firms and the West Bend position seemed like it was a great fit for me and hopefully for the West Bend School District,” Kirkegaard said.

He wanted a district with 6,000 to 10,000 students in “an exciting and thriving community” where his skills met the local needs. He described West Bend, which is near Milwaukee, as “a great fit.”

“I took the position of secretary of education knowing that it was a short-term position,” Kirkegaard said. “We have three excellent candidates for governor. I have had no discussion with any of the candidates discussing my future within the department. I am not certain if I would have been asked to stay on or not.”

His hope, he said, was to work another five to 10 years in education and knew from experience there wouldn’t be many opportunities in December through July.

He said his wife, Lois, is excited about moving closer to their children who live in Minneapolis and Fargo.

“A new district and new state will be an exciting change. Not better or worse, just different,” he said.

Click HERE to read the full article.

In December 2017 the West Bend School District voted to release Superintendent Erik Olson.

Olson was hired June 2016 and officially resigned effective Dec. 14, 2017.

When hired the School Board approved a two-year contract with Olson at a salary of $155,000. In 2017 that contract was extended another two years.

Below is the resignation agreement between the West Bend Board of Education and Erik Olson.

Olson’s salary upon termination was $155,000 a year. The amount of benefits received in the agreement were not disclosed and are part of a second open records request.

The agreement also indicates Olson would receive full salary “less applicable withholdings” for the remainder of his contract. He will also receive moving expenses of $10,000 and unused vacation of $10,432.63.


In the top story at Rapidcityjournal.com where “Kirkegaard explains why his time was so short as education secretary” he also spoke about his salary.


The article reads: “As education secretary he was paid $155,000.  The salary in West Bend will be $175,000, he said.”

There is some analysis in the blog “Dakota Free Press” by Cory Allen Heidelberger about the departure of Kirkegaard from South Dakota.

One of the comments following the post had some speculation about the political future in Wisconsin.

The comment was posted by Donald Pay:

Let’s make some assumptions, though, about the future. Let’s say Tony Evers wins the Democratic Party nomination for Governor and goes on to beat Scott Walker. Evers currently is the Secretary of the Department of Public Instruction, an elected head of what in South Dakota is the appointed Secretary of Education. That office would be open, and, though technically a non-partisan office, the candidates usually line up ideologically with one of the parties. The more conservative side of the aisle has had little luck fielding good, electable candidates for that office over a couple decades. So, maybe, Kierkegaard could, if not next year, then sometime in the future, be a candidate for that office.

It is likely, even if Evers doesn’t beat Walker, that this will be his last term in that office, so it will be an open seat anyway.


Kirkegaard is scheduled to start in West Bend on July 1, 2018.


  1. Posted by Mark H

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