West Allis-West Milwaukee School District searches for interim superintendent

Wachholz retires after 12 years in position

Superintendent Kurt Wachholz greets people attending a launch at Frank Lloyd Wright Middle School for an anti-bullying effort for West Allis schools in 2010.

Superintendent Kurt Wachholz greets people attending a launch at Frank Lloyd Wright Middle School for an anti-bullying effort for West Allis schools in 2010. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Aug. 5, 2014

West Allis — An interim superintendent for the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District could be announced as early as Monday, Aug. 11, said school board President Pat Kerhhin.

The interim superintendent will serve the coming school year while the school board finds a successor for Kurt Wachholz who retired last week after 12 years in the superintendent's spot.

The school board accepted his retirement in a special meeting Wednesday, July 30, and Wachholz' retirement took effect Thursday.

Kerhin didn't have a theory in regard to the relative suddenness of the retirement request, but she said Wachholz leaves the district in good shape. His staff worked as a team, so they will be able to manage in the interim, she said.

Wachholz said because the superintendent's job is 12 months, there is no good time to retire. He knew the board would need to hire an interim superintendent, but he said, "I was an interim 12 years ago. That's kind of been the process; it wasn't unique."

Wachholz served the district for 35 years as a teacher; a coach; district gifted and talented coordinator; and principal of Jefferson Elementary School before becoming superintendent.

He also is a graduate of the West Allis-West Milwaukee' Nathan Hale High School.

Wachholz has contributed greatly to the schools, officials said.

"He is a very knowledgeable educator and a very innovative one," Kerhin said. "Where we're going would not be possible without Kurt's talent."

For example, the district's personalized learning in the Next Generation Learning has caught the attention of the nation, she said.

"He was absolutely an educational visionary," said longtime school board member Sue Sujecki.

"His undying passion for the kids cannot be questioned," she added. "He's well thought of from one end of the community to the other."

Fellow board member and former school board President Sue Stalewski agreed.

"I think Kurt was a great visionary for our school district," she said, citing the Next Generation Learning program and the career and education planning.

"He was tireless in advocating with our legislature about the needs of education," Stalewski said, and he led the district through all the complexities and implications of the state's sweeping Act 10.

"He's been eligible for retirement for years," she said. "It will be a challenge to replace him."

Board member Dan Bailey looks at this as a new beginning, not only for the schools, but for the school board.

"We as a board are looking to be more visible to parents, teachers and administrators, as well as the common council," Bailey said. "I want the people to know that we as a board want to talk to concerned citizens and teachers and administrators and develop trust between us all."

Wachholz said he also is looking at new beginnings. He has been approached for years to teach at the college level, he said. He also hopes to advocate for children on the state and national levels.

"I have enjoyed my service in West Allis," he said.

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