West Bend School Superintendent secures interim job in school district in South Dakota

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February 11, 2020 – West Bend, WI – Outgoing West Bend School District Superintendent Don Kirkegaard on Monday night secured an interim superintendent’s position in the Meade School District in his home state of South Dakota.

Don Kirkegaard

According to the Monday, February 10, Meade School Board agenda:

Item 7b – Superintendent Contract

Background: The school board is prepared to offer an interim superintendent contract. All terms of this contract will be discussed in executive session.

The nine-member Meade School Board voted 7-1 to approve a 1-year interim contract for $150,000.

Meade School Board members voting in favor of Kirkegaard included JT Vig, Charlie Wheeler, Cody Weber, Lee Spring, Dennis Chowen (Board President), Joseph Urbaniak (Board Vice President), and John Nachtigall.

Tracy Konst was the lone dissenting vote.  Courtney Mack was absent.

Kirkegaard is to take over in the Meade School District on July 1, 2020.  Kirkegaard’s last day in West Bend School District will be June 30, 2020.

Kirkegaard was paid $175,000 in the West Bend School District. The district also covered his moving expenses up to $15,000.

Meade School Board is not going to pay moving expenses for Kirkegaard to return home.

According to board officials it has not been determined whether Kirkegaard would be considered for a full-time position as Superintendent in the Meade School District. According to state law in South Dakota, an interim position can only run for one year.

Kirkegaard was not in attendance Monday night at the Meade School Board meeting.

He is, however, expected to return to the Meade School District in March.

School officials confirmed Kirkegaard was not the only candidate who applied for the interim post.

It was February 3, 2020 when WashingtonCountyInsider.com broke the story about West Bend School Superintendent Don Kirkegaard looking to return to his former school district and expressing interest in the interim superintendent position in the Meade School District.

“I’m not ready to be done done yet …. the departure truly is a personal decision,” he said.

Questioned if he has been in contact with the Meade School District, Kirkegaard said he had.

“I just let them know I would be interested in being an interim superintendent if that’s the direction they choose to go,” he said. “I told the board (Meade School Board) I would not apply for that position,” said Kirkegaard. “If they choose to go for an interim position then I’d certainly like to be considered for that but that’s a decision the board has to make.”

Questioned whether the West Bend School Board made him an offer to stay. “That wasn’t an option,” said Kirkegaard. “I never gave them an opportunity to make an offer because that wasn’t an option.”

Kirkegaard said he informed “individual West Bend School Board members the week before (last week in January) with the idea I was going to resign and submit a resignation tonight, Monday, February 3.

A story by reporter Jim Holland in the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota indicated Kirkegaard had contacted the Meade School Board the day after a January 13 meeting to talk about the interim position.

STURGIS | Former Meade 46-1 superintendent of schools Don Kirkegaard has offered his services as an interim superintendent of the district, following the release of current superintendent Jeff Simmons in January.

Kirkegaard also confirmed he had contacted the Meade 46-1 Board of Education about the superintendent’s opening, but only in an interim capacity. “If you decide you’re going to do an interim (superintendent). I would be interested in being considered,” Kirkegaard said.

“If you’re going to do a full-fledged search, I will do everything I can to help you get the right candidate, but I’m not going to re-apply for the position,” he said.

Dennis Chowen, president of the Meade 46-1 Board of Education, confirmed Tuesday that Kirkegaard had contacted the board the day after a Jan. 13 meeting in which the board and Simmons announced a mutual agreement of his release from the remainder of his three-year contract. Simmons will finish his contract, which runs through the end of June. He has been superintendent there since July 1, 2018.

Simmons returned to Sturgis in 2018, succeeding interim superintendent John Pederson, who was appointed in December of 2017 after Donald Kirkegaard was named South Dakota Secretary of Education by then-Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

 

Kirkegaard came from South Dakota. He said he and his wife Lois are returning to the home they built in the Black Hills. “We did not sell our house in the Black Hills,” said Kirkegaard. “We kept it with the idea that we knew that’s where we would retire.”

Kirkegaard is 62 years old and spent 60 years in South Dakota.

 

The West Bend School District will now have five superintendents over the last four years. Kirkegaard was hired after former Superintendent Erik Olson submitted his resignation December 14, 2017. Olsen was hired June 2016. 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. The payout to Olson was about $300,000.

Prior to Olson, Ted Neitzke served as superintendent from 2011 – June 2016 when he resigned and Laura Jackson served as interim superintendent after Olson left and prior to Kirkegaard.

Still no word on whether a counteroffer was made. Calls have been placed to school board members including Paul Fischer who said he did not think a counteroffer had been made. Fischer was also unaware Kirkegaard had been in contact with his previous employer in the Meade School District.

A couple other bullet points:

-Kirkegaard’s contract is public record and posted HERE. Highlights include an annual salary of $175,000, moving expenses up to $15,000 and the “District shall annually contribute 6% of the Superintendent’s salary ($10,500) to a 403 (b) retirement account.The Rapid City Journal said as South Dakota Secretary of Education, the job he had previously to West Bend, he was paid $155,000.

-When Kirkegaard first came to the West Bend School District he said his intentions were to stay up to 2023-2024. “I told people my goal was to be here five to six years. Five years would get me to 65 and I don’t have a five-year contract. But that was my intent to try and stay five to six years. It was just a situation my wife and I looked at we want to be back in South Dakota.”

-Kirkegaard worked in the Meade School District from July 1, 2011 until his appointment with the state of South Dakota in January 1, 2018.

-In March 2018 the West Bend School District contracted with McPherson & Jacobson, LLC, a recruitment and development firm assisting with the search for a new superintendent. Click HERE to see what stakeholders in the community thought were important characteristics in a new superintendent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the West Bend School District the board met February 6 to discuss filling the superintendent’s position. District finance director Andrew Sarnow gave a presentation and addressed wage comparisons.

Lenny Hanson, the new director of human resources was not in attendance.

The board determined it would use the same search firm it used when filling the post after superintendent Erik Olson left.

The board indicated it would limit its scope in a search, cutting out the initial steps of getting input from staff, parents and the community since the last search was two years ago.

Board member Kurt Rebholz suggested students who were in attendance tell their favorite principals about the job.

The pay ranges discussed for a new superintendent in West Bend were between $160,000 and $180,000.

Meeting minutes from the February 6, 2020 meeting are expected to be posted later this week.

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