As students return for another school year Sept. 1, that day will likely be Racine Unified Superintendent James Shaw's last day on the job.
Shaw announced his resignation at a press conference Monday afternoon saying, "it was just time" to leave.
William Van Atta, Board of Education president, said Shaw's announcement wasn't a surprise as Shaw had been very open with the Board about his plans. Dr. Ann Laing, who currently serves as the director of special education for Racine Unified, would serve as the interim superintendent until a new superintendent is found.
"The RUSD Board of Education, the staff, students and community are grateful to Dr. Shaw for the professionalism, dedication and energy to RUSD to advance student learning,” Van Atta said.
Shaw, 66, had come out of retirement when he took the job of one of the largest school districts in the state three years ago. During that time, Shaw has had to cope with failed referendums, changes to the State Aid formula that, in part, resulted in a $25 million shortfall. This led to massive cuts to the district's budget, and staff layoffs. State Republican Legislators also passed a school voucher program that result in additional losses is state funding -- all problems, he said, have been frustrating.
“The referendum was certainly a disappointment,” Shaw said. “But you know, given the time that the referendum occurred, I think it’s understandable that we didn’t get enough support.”
Still, Shaw pointed to the development of North Star, a vision for educating all students. This further led to business partnerships, and a data driven school improvement system to confront meet No Child Left Behind requirements.
“The staff, I think, is also really committed to making the difference,” Shaw said. “The other pleasant surprise that we have in Racine…is that we really have some high-performing children. Racine Unified is not the picture where everyone is struggling. There are pockets of excellence in every one of our schools.”
In the meantime, Laing, who has 22 years as an administrator with RUSD, has been nominated for the job until a replacement could be found.
Laing said her message to the community is that the district will remain stable in its vision.
“We will do everything we can do support kids, and teachers and principals,” Laing said. “And that there shouldn’t be any huge changes with Dr. Shaw leaving and my entering the position because we have a well thought out plan, which will be a good road map for next year.
The Board of Education is expected to vote Tuesday, Aug. 2 on whether to accept Shaw's resignation. Shaw's contract doesn't end until June 30, 2012 and he would need the Board’s approval to be let out of the contract.
Van Atta said the Board would meet to discuss the vacancy and the district’s needs.
“We’re not talking about a rural school district here,” Van Atta said. “We’re talking about an urban district. And it takes a different kind of person that wants to attack an urban school district.”