Archive for Friday, April 24, 2009

Zoellner resigns from USD 232, takes top job in Louisburg

Unified School District 232 Superintendent Dr. Sharon Zoellner (left) goes over the latest vote return numbers on a school bond issue with Susan Sipe, director of special service in the district, in this November 2008 photo. Both Zoellner and Sipe, along with Bret Church, USD 232 executive director of teaching and learning services, submitted their resignations on Friday, April 24.

Unified School District 232 Superintendent Dr. Sharon Zoellner (left) goes over the latest vote return numbers on a school bond issue with Susan Sipe, director of special service in the district, in this November 2008 photo. Both Zoellner and Sipe, along with Bret Church, USD 232 executive director of teaching and learning services, submitted their resignations on Friday, April 24.

April 24, 2009, 8:15 a.m.

Updated: April 24, 2009, 2:01 p.m.

Related document
Unified School District 232 Superintendent Dr. Sharon Zoellner (left) goes over the latest vote return numbers on a school bond issue with Susan Sipe, director of special service in the district, in this November 2008 photo. Both Zoellner and Sipe, along with Bret Church, USD 232 executive director of teaching and learning services, submitted their resignations on Friday, April 24.

Unified School District 232 Superintendent Dr. Sharon Zoellner (left) goes over the latest vote return numbers on a school bond issue with Susan Sipe, director of special service in the district, in this November 2008 photo. Both Zoellner and Sipe, along with Bret Church, USD 232 executive director of teaching and learning services, submitted their resignations on Friday, April 24.

A special meeting Friday morning of the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education ended with the board accepting the resignation of Superintendent of Schools Sharon Zoellner. Later in the morning, Zoellner was hired by Louisburg USD 416 as superintendent.

In Louisburg, Zoellner will succeed Rick Doll, who recently accepted a position as superintendent in the Lawrence USD 497.

Alvie Cater, De Soto district's communication director, said Zoellner's resignation was effective June 30. She begins July 1 in Louisburg.

Cater said the Board will begin developing a plan of action to find new leadership. The Board meets again at the regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. May 4 at District Administrative Building.

The Board will begin the process of developing a plan of action to find new leadership. It will meet again on May 4, 2009, at its regularly scheduled meeting at the Board of Education building, 35200 West 91st Street, De Soto, KS

De Soto USD 232 board members went into executive session to discuss non-elected personnel at the start of the early-morning meeting, which lasted roughly a half an hour. At the conclusion board members accepted the resignations of three administrators, including Zoellner.

Board members Jim Thomas, Bill Fletcher, Randy Johnson and Larry Meyer attended in person, while Janine Gracy, Tim Blankenship and Don Clark attended via phone.

In the closed session, Zoellner submitted her letter of resignation to the board. When the board returned to public session, Zoellner's resignation was accepted on a 6-1 vote, with Thomas in dissent.

Zoellner came to the district in August 1989 as principal of Countryside Intermediate Elementary. In February 1993, she was named district director of finance and student services. Promotions to assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent followed. In 2003, she was named to replace her longtime mentor, Marilyn Layman, who had retired.

In May 2008, Zoellner accepted a new, three-year contract for the De Soto post. The contract set a base salary of $161,429 per year with fringe benefits and reimbursements. Those benefits included 25 days paid vacation, $630 per month for automobile reimbursment for travel within the distrct, a communications allowance of $135 per month for cell phone and Internet services.

Zoellner earned her doctorate in educational administration from Kansas University and a masters from Emporia State. Her undergraduate degree is from Central Methodist College in Fayette, Mo.

In a letter to the community Friday, Zoellner expressed her concern about recent actions by the De Soto board.

"It is my professional opinion that the Board is now moving in a direction that is diametrically opposed to what is best for the students, staff, and patrons of this school district," her letter said.

Zoellner said she was committed to working with the board over the next several months to ensure a smooth transition. She said she also would make herself available to the new leadership team so the district moves forward without disruption.

"These last 20 years, six as Superintendent, have been the most rewarding of my professional career. It is the wonderful people with whom I have been able to work that mean so much to me," the letter said.

The board also accepted the resignations of Bret Church, executive director of teaching and learning services, and Susan Sipe, director of special services.

Church’s resignation was accepted with a vote of 6-1 with Meyer in dissent.

The board accepted Sipe’s resignation with a vote of 5-2 with Thomas and Meyer in dissent.

Church and Sipe's resignations also are effective June 30.

Zoellner was present at Friday's meeting, but did not attend the executive session. Church and Sipe were not present at the meeting.

Friday's resignations, coupled with several previously announced resignations, leave the De Soto district with several key positions to fill before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. At the board's April 20 meeting, it was recommended the superintendent create and advertise for two new administrative positions. The two positions, associate superintendent of education services and associate superintendent of business and operations, will be salaried through the contingency reserve funds.

Also at the April 20 meeting, the board recommended the nonrenewal of contract for director of policy and research, Joe Vitt. At a special meeting April 13, the board accepted the resignation of Mill Valley High School principal Joe Novak. Novak has worked in the district for 20 years. He will continue to work part-time as a leadership consultant within the district.

Check back at shawneedispatch.com and desotoexplorer.com for updates to this story, and read more about the story in Wednesday's edition of The Dispatch and Thursday's Explorer.

Comments

66061 5 years, 6 months ago

Would someone at the paper please show Ashley Kieler how to check her spelling on the computer?

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Sky 5 years, 6 months ago

The best thing susan sipe and sharon zoellner has done for the student in usd 232 is to leave. allison anderson, I feel should leave too. She is not open to parents or seems to care, I believe.

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Ted 5 years, 6 months ago

Obviously Sharon Zoellner has taken the low approach with her comment regarding the school boards direction as "diametrically" wrong. As far as her helping in the transition I would encourage the board to demand that she clean out her desk by Monday morning. Zoellners leadership ability in this district was below standards and it showed glowingly at the last board meeting. No need to continue the relationship as she obviously has looked elsewhere for employement. As for Susan Sipes her very brief employement histories with several school districts should have been a tell tale warning sign before being hired in the first place, however with the lack of leadership displayed by Zoellner this should come as no surprise to anyone.

It appears the sudden resignations of Joe Vitt and Joe Novack had a chain reaction effect and they apparently had enough support from teachers even after their resignations to bring down Zoellner, Sipes and Church.

It is to bad tenured educators such as Novack and Vitt were apparently slammed into resignation it would be interesting to hear their side of this debacle.

The gross lack of leadership, communication with parents, unaccountability, honesty and most of all lack of trust helped bring this administration down. Don't ask me to vote in favor of a new bond issue anytime soon until these issues are addressed!

Potentially the new canidates for Zoellner's job might take interest in reading the painted blocks and what is written upon them leading into Starside Elementary School entrance. It would serve them well.

Ashame some people in their high positions don't think of their jobs as a priveledge rather than a right.

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ted232 5 years, 5 months ago

No communication by Dr. Zoellner was obviously paramount to her career here, as her actions show she is a one person show. Playing on both sides of the fence no longer worked for her.

Now Mr. Clark you may have continued respect for Dr. Zoellner but now you and the other school board members can obviously understand how most of what the parents and teachers in this district felt like. Retaliation and rampant disregard for due respect across the lower ranks is very disturbing. The treatment the teachers in this district received can now be clearly understood and why alot of teacher turnover occured in the past several years. By the way I do not work in the district in case you may be wondering. However I am one of those so called silent majority voters who choose to vote each election. Keep that in mind as I will be watching a lot more closely as the next administrators are chosen for consideration. I sincerley hope Louisburg can afford the turnover rates?

Unfortunately a majority of the school board members appear to have been left in the dark by Dr. Zoellner. You can bet as a patron of this district the next administrators better be held accountable for their actions. I am sure this is a hard lesson in the district for everyone can learn from. I just regret a large turnover rate of very qualified caring teachers have left this district and now I know why.

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