SHAWANO, Wis. (WFRV) – Shawano School Board President Mike Musolff said he is focused on the future in the wake of superintendent Randi Anderson announcing her resignation.
A district official tipped Local Five News off about the announcement around 4 p.m.
The official shared a statement from the district reading: “Randi Anderson has resigned from her position as the District’s Superintendent, effective Sept. 2, based upon her need to tend to personal matters impacting her and her family. She wished to express her unwavering support for all administration and staff and her belief in the work being done to support the children in our District. The Board has begun the process of recruiting a successor to Randi and will keep you apprised as that situation progresses.”
In an email obtained by Local Five News that she sent out to district families Wednesday afternoon, Anderson reiterated many of the points made in the district’s statement saying she needs time to focus on her family and she thanked all of her former colleagues for their hard work.
Five Shawano School Board members have resigned in the last month. James Davel and Jamie Beyer resigned at the end of July and Chuck Dallas, Michael Sleeper, and Chris Gull all submitted letters of resignation within the last 48 hours.
Local Five News reached out to all five of them. Three didn’t return calls and texts seeking comments. Davel and Dallas did get back to our reporter, but declined interview requests.
“I had no issue with our former school board members that left, I actually wish that they would have stayed,” said Musolff.
When asked in an interview on Wednesday evening, Musolff wouldn’t reveal the reasons board members shared with him for deciding to resign. He also wouldn’t say publicly if he thinks that Anderson’s departure is a positive or negative for the district, instead, he wanted to focus on the future and instituting positive change.
“I don’t want to compare our outgoing superintendent to what our next superintendent will be,” said Musolff. “I’ll just tell you what I’ll look for in a superintendent I’m not saying anything negative about our superintendent that is leaving. But I do want in my opinion, a servant leader type person. I want somebody that will come in and meet with staff, students whoever they can, the community, and talk with them and tell them what’s going on.”
Musolff said that Director of Instruction and Personalized Learning Kurt Krizan will be the acting superintendent while the district goes through the process of hiring a new superintendent.
He said that last school year, communication between the board and administration wasn’t always the greatest and that he felt that sometimes board members didn’t get all the information they needed to make important decisions.
He said some of his major goals moving forward are to improve transparency, communication between the board, administration, teachers, students, and the community and to do a better job of listening to what teachers need to serve their students.
“In this situation we have lots of change and we’re going to need lots of patience with our staff and our administrators,” said Musolff. “But we are here for the kids and we need to make it a great learning environment for the kids.”
Some community members weren’t happy with Anderson over the last couple of years, blaming her for the district’s budget deficit, a mass exodus of teachers and staff, and a switch in school technology that left many teachers feeling frustrated.
Bobbi Lemerond, a Shawano School District parent, was one of the leading voices for the group of parents demanding change in the district. She helped lead an effort to circulate a petition asking for the removal of Anderson that generated nearly 1200 signatures.
“It’s a bittersweet reaction because you’d hate to see anybody lose a job, or leave a job or not be comfortable in their community,” said Lemerond. “At the same time, I feel like she wasn’t a proper fit for the Shawano School District. I think we’ll be able to move forward in a more positive direction and rebuild what we’ve lost the last two years.”
She said she’s pleased with the changes that Shawano School District has made. She said one of the toughest parts of the whole situation has been seeing the impact staff departures have had on her children.
“I believe in this community, I believe in the Shawano School District, we’ve had amazing staff and board members and administrators in the past,” said Lemerond. “We can have that again. As long as everybody works together. But it will take time, it will take time to rebuild what we’ve lost.”
“We know there’s concerns, but what’s great about having so many concerns from the community is we have lots of community members and staff members who care,” said Musolff. “When you care you’re willing to be part of the solution.”
Local Five News reached out to Anderson via email for comment, but we haven’t received a response back yet.
Local Five News reached out to a former Shawano Middle School teacher who left the district in May citing a lack of support from administrators as a major reason he decided to leave.
“I think it’s great (the shakeup in leadership) and the first step to healing a lot of relationships within the district and community,” the former teacher told Local Five News. “Everyone carried around the burden whether they realized it or not. Kids saw that and so did our colleagues. I’ve already heard today has been super positive and so much less stress. I’m just really happy they can finally turn a corner and grow again. It’s going to take time with some of the great people that left, but there are still great people left to build with and hopefully injecting new faces they can all grow a better culture together. Super happy for everyone there.”
He said he would be open to returning to Shawano School District now that there has been the shakeup in leadership.
Local Five News spoke to a current teacher in the Shawano School District who told us he was surprised when he heard that the superintendent as well as five board members had chosen to resign.
He concurred with Musolff that communication was an issue over the last year.
”I hope that she and her family (referring to Anderson) are able to get the time they need to focus on what’s best for them,” the teacher told us. “I am hopeful that we as a district will be able to focus on taking care of our students, while finding solutions for the concerns that we are facing.”
He declined to answer whether he thinks Anderson’s resignation was a positive or negative for the school district but did say that “I am cautiously optimistic about what the future holds for Shawano School District. So yes, I am hopeful that we will be able to put aside some distractions and focus on our students and how we can best serve all their needs.”