By Maureen Vander Sanden

SLN Staff 

After four decades in public education, District Administrator Greg Wescott announced Monday; this coming school year would be his last heading up operations at Elkhorn Area schools.

Greg Wescott

Wescott, 60, gave his official notification of retirement at the Aug. 13 School Board meeting, noting that the past 16 years as Elkhorn’s  district administrator were the best part of his 40-year career.

No specific reason prompted his decision, he said.

“I love this district and the people here, I just thought that 40 years of working in public schools was enough.

“I must admit that trying to decide when to leave all of the students, staff and (the board) has been the most difficult decision in my life,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

In 1997, Wescott took the reins of the district, leaving Delavan-Darien High School where he was principal, succeeding Tony Serpe.

During Wescott’s tenure, enrollment in Elkhorn schools has increased by about 1,000 students.

With growing enrollment numbers, came the demand for new classroom space, and perhaps the most tangible change under Wescott’s watch – the construction of the present Elkhorn Area Middle School.

School Board President Susan Leibsle, who was on the board that hired Wescott, said the district’s stability is a testimony to his leadership.

Most notably, she said, he handpicked an outstanding staff.

“He really has a knack for knowing the right fit. That’s a great skill on his part,” she said.

“He earned the respect of all the people who worked for him… He always listened. He couldn’t guarantee a result, but he always listened, and people appreciated having his ear.”

According to Leibsle, Wescott’s undivided attention, matched with his ability to keep staffers and the public well informed, helped the district ride out the Wisconsin Act 10 storm, when schools statewide were closing as a record number of protesters descended on Madison in opposition of Gov. Walker’s biannual budget.

“I think a lot of reason we didn’t have any problems with our teachers during all the changes that came in last year’s state budget is because Greg did a great job keeping everybody well-informed,” she said. “There were so many unknowns, but working together took some of the fear away, and people really learned they could trust what he had to say.”

During his leadership, Wescott’s mission has remained the same – finding the perfect balance of providing students with the best possible education, while being sensitive to the taxpayers’ who provide the funding.

“I certainly think he has accomplished what he has set out to do,” Leibsle said, touting the district’s test scores, low administrative expenses, and overall frugal spending.

Wescott’s announcement is bittersweet, according to the board president.

She joked at the board meeting about not accepting his letter, but later credited him for “methodically heading the district in the right direction” – providing for an easier transition.

Now the board is tasked with finding the right person to fill Wescott’s shoes.

“It’s a huge amount of work,” she said, of the selection process, “and to replace someone as well liked and respected as he is adds to the work, and makes it difficult for someone coming in.”

The board will soon get to work seeking Wescott’s successor, with the possibility of hiring a recruiter through the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

Leibsle expects the process to be daunting since about 20 percent of districts statewide are experiencing turnovers in superintendents. The new administrator’s salary range will likely be higher than the current $127,000 rate, she said, due to the competition, as well as Wescott taking previous pay freezes.

“There aren’t a lot of people in the field, and finding a high caliber person will be a challenge,” she added. “If we want to continue down this same path, we need a strong leader.”

 

 

 

 
 

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