Janesville57.1°

Interim superintendent offered position

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Ted Sullivan
March 22, 2009
— Karen Z. Schulte pledges to tackle the budget, communicate with school officials and raise student achievement scores when she becomes the next Janesville public schools superintendent.

She has been interim superintendent in Janesville since longtime Superintendent Tom Evert resigned unexpectedly Feb. 10.


The Janesville School Board voted unanimously Saturday night to offer Schulte the job. Schulte will be the 23rd superintendent. She also will be the first female superintendent.


“I’m really excited, so when I get into the door Monday morning, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves,” Schulte said. “I’m very excited they have put their confidence in me.”


The board and two committees interviewed three finalists Saturday for the position. The board met afterward to discuss whom to hire. Their discussion lasted three hours.


“She’s an insider within the district, but she has an outsider’s view on how to look at issues and craft appropriate solutions,” board President DuWayne Severson said. “We look forward to moving ahead.”


Schulte will face challenges as the next superintendent.


She said her top priority would be the budget in the midst of the auto industry layoffs and declining student enrollment.


She has already met with school staffs in search of ideas to save money. She also changed the district’s budget process, offering several possible budget cuts before making her recommendations.


Schulte said she wants to focus on raising satisfaction levels with staff and parents.


She promised to approach the job from different angles and with a fresh pair of eyes.


“I’ve always been an outside-the-box thinker,” Schulte said. “I’m the type of person that questions the status quo.”


The board, community members and district staff met with each candidate. The interviews were closed to the public.


Robert F. Jones, superintendent of the COOR Intermediate School District in Michigan, and Barbara Williams Thompson, superintendent of the New Glarus School District, also interviewed for the job.


“The board recognized that all three candidates had strong qualities, however, Dr. Schulte provided the best fit for the Janesville School District at this time,” Severson said.


Schulte became director of student services in Janesville in 2004. She continues to hold that title while being interim superintendent.


Schulte never thought of becoming superintendent until Evert announced he would retire. She decided to apply before Evert’s unexpected departure.


The board must conduct a background check on Schulte, Severson said. A contract also must be signed.


Then the title will be official.


“I am very happy,” Schulte said.



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