Edgerton's gain is Janesville's loss, principal says

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Stacy Vogel
March 21, 2009
— Craig's principal is going to miss one of his number-two guys, but he knows Mark Coombs is ready to lead a school, he said.

A search committee selected Coombs to lead Edgerton High School after Principal Jim Halberg retires, according to a news release issued Friday.

"I'm ecstatic. It's great. I'm excited about the opportunity to go out to Edgerton and be a part of the community," Coombs. "I love working with kids, and I love working with schools."

For the last four years, Coombs has served as assistant principal at Janesville's Craig High School.

"It's a really wise choice by Edgerton," Craig Principal Mike Kuehne said. "Mark has been an excellent leader here at Craig High School."

Kuehne described Coombs as organized, personable and student-oriented.

"He looks at the big picture, and he always makes decisions based on what he believes is the best interests of students," Kuehne said.

That passion for students impressed Amy Horn-Delzer, a school board member who was on the search committee.

"The first thing you notice about Mark when he sat down for an interview is his complete enthusiasm and passion for what he does and the students he serves," she said.

Horn-Delzer also was impressed by Coombs' desire to fit into the community, as evidenced by his commitment to move to Edgerton.

Community interaction is important because the high school principal is highly visible in Edgerton, Superintendent Norm Fjelstad said.

Fjelstad facilitated the search committee but didn't offer an opinion because he's retiring at the end of 2009-10, he said.

The decision was difficult for the committee, especially when it came to passing over Edgerton High School's associate principal, Clark Bretthauer, Fjelstad said.

"We have an outstanding associate principal who would make an excellent principal, but there were just certain things that Mark Coombs brought with him to the district that the staff felt was just an edge over Clark," Fjelstad said.

Coombs is in charge of scheduling at Craig, which has an eight-period day. Edgerton will transition from a four-period day to an eight-period day in 2010-11. He also has experience with budget and student issues, Horn-Delzer said.

Before coming to Craig, Coombs served as dean of students at McNeel Middle School in Beloit, Kuehne said. He also taught at Janesville's Edison Middle School.

The board will vote on Coomb's contract Monday. If the contract is approved, Coombs will start July 1.

Coombs won't be the only new principal next year. Elementary Principal Bill Fry has submitted his retirement, Fjelstad said. The board will vote on the retirement Monday.

The district's other elementary principal, Aundrea Kerkenbush, started this year, and the district hopes to hire a new superintendent by January.

"I absolutely loved my time at Craig, and I just look forward to my time in Edgerton," Coombs said.

"We're going through a big change in our district," Fjelstad said.

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