Janesville54°

Superintendent to retire after 14 years

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 11, 2008
— Will the next Janesville public schools superintendent provide the stability that comes from holding that post for more than a decade?

Superintendent Tom Evert will have been superintendent for 14 years when he steps down next June. He announced his intent to retire Friday.


The three superintendents before Evert served an average 20 years apiece.


But that’s not the norm these days.


The American Association of School Administrators said the average tenure for a superintendent is 5.5 years.


In a 2007 report, the association cited research that shows a long-serving superintendent is good for student achievement.


Evert said Janesville will expect the new superintendent to stick around for a long time.


The new superintendent should consider himself or herself a rookie for the first 10 years, Evert added.


Evert said he had no specific plans, but: “I’m looking for new opportunities. It’s time for new leadership in the school district of Janesville.”


Evert said he based his decision on what’s best for the district.


Next year, the district will start work on a new five-year strategic plan, and it makes sense that the new superintendent be a part of that process, “so that’s the overriding factor,” Evert said.


Evert will be 62 when he retires. He said he has been interested in local education decision-making for most of his career, and he intends to continue attending Janesville School Board meetings after he retires.


He said he will continue to live in Janesville for the foreseeable future.


School board President DuWayne Severson announced Evert’s retirement in a news conference Friday afternoon.


Severson said he has a proposal for the process to replace Evert, but he would not reveal full details until Tuesday, when the school board begins discussions on that topic.


“We will select the best candidate for this district,” Severson said. “This will be a nationwide search. No one internal or external candidate has an inside track on this position.”


Severson said he wants to save about $30,000 by not hiring a search firm.


Paying a search firm is a common practice for school boards seeking new superintendents.


Severson said Quint Studer, CEO of Studer Group, which has been working with the district to improve the quality of education, has offered the free use of a consultant to advise a local search committee.


Selecting and developing good leaders is a key part of the Studer process.


Evert said the Studer approach to hiring a new leader includes greater involvement of staff, standardized questions and focus on a vision for how the organization can improve.


Severson said he talked with Studer and Evert in developing a superintendent-selection process. He said the process would involve input from the community.


Evert said the Studer process would require the new superintendent to be someone who welcomes accountability based on tangible, specific goals and measures.


Severson said he had discussed a possible retirement with Evert for the past three months, but Evert chose the timing.


Severson said his goal is to announce a new superintendent by March.


Evert also served as principal of Craig High School and director of student services for the district. He also served in administrative roles in the Beloit and Sheboygan districts.


Evert said he’d like to be remembered for “being a superintendent who listened to ideas and tried to do what was best for students.


“I really, truly believe we are in the business of hope, and you never know when providing a student with some kind of insight, knowledge or opportunity might change a future.”


Severson said Evert would be remembered for construction projects that improved the elementary and high schools, the new 4-year-old kindergarten program, five new charter schools, his partnership with Studer Group, and his advocacy for putting reading specialists and counselors at each elementary school.


“Dr. Evert’s contributions to the Janesville School District will forever be appreciated,” Severson said.


Don Mrdjenovich, who preceded Evert in the job, said Evert has had a great career.


“I think he did an excellent job of communication, reaching out in the community and involving people in helping him and the board make some very tough decisions,” Mrdjenovich said.



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