Joe Price has resigned as district administrator for the Iola-Scandinavia School District.
The I-S School Board accepted his resignation at its May 14 meeting.
Price has taken a position as agency administrator at CESA 3.
“It’s a good time to change jobs,” he told the County Post West. “It’s a pretty good position.”
His resignation is effective June 30 and Price begins his new job on July 1.
“There’s a lot of work involved in changing jobs and moving,” he said. “It’s going to be a short summer.”
“For the last 30 years, this school district has been very fortunate to have been led by three great district administrators – Bob Crase, Chester Fraley and Joe Price. This district is what it is greatly because of them,” Board President Tom Opperman told the County Post.
“We have facilities that are the envy of school districts our size and of many much larger. We lead the state in standardized test scores and graduate students that have great success in college and their chosen professions,” he said. “We do these things and continue to get budget restraint exceptions because of being considered a low spending district by the state.”
Price admits he had been looking for a different job. “It didn’t come and find me,” he said.
“Whatever the circumstances that led me to look, I’m happy with what I found,” he added. “It’s a chance to take on different challenges.”
Price will not lose out on his retirement benefits because CESA employees are also part of the Wisconsin Retirement System.
CESA 3, based in Fennimore, serves 31 school districts with about 20,000 students and 1,000 teachers. Fennimore is located about 60 miles west of Madison and about 30 miles east of Dubuque, Iowa.
CESA 3 has an 11-member board made up of school board members from its 31 partner districts.
“The focus of CESA is providing shared services for small school districts,” Price said. “They also provide professional development for both teachers and administrators.
Currently, the I-S School District utilizes CESA 5 to provide for occupational therapy and some aides.
Price replaces Nancy Hendrickson, who has served as agency administrator for the past five years. Hendrickson has accepted a part-time position as a school district administrator.
“She has done good things,” Price said. “I am not taking over a mess I have to fix.”
He and his wife, Laura, will still be living far from their son, Alex, who is the director of Wissota Springs Assisted Living in Chippewa Falls. Also, Laura will need to give up her position as a customer service representative at F+W.
Hard to leave
Price admits “It’s hard to leave,” the Iola-Scandinavia area.
“This has been a great district to work at,” he said. “We have had the same administrative team here for the last 12 years.”
“(The district) has a good mix of veteran and young teachers,” he added. “We have had really good results, but everybody involved here is focused on taking great results and making them even better.”
Price was hired by the I-S School District in 1995 as middle/high school principal. He assumed his present position in 2000 soon after the death of Chester Fraley.
“I never would have taken on this job if not for Jon (Novak), Tess (Lecy-Wojcik), Sara (Anderson), Larry (Fechter) and Molly (Vold),” he said. “I knew there were good people I could rely on. They are dedicated to trying to do the best job they possibly can.”
“It’s not like we’re here because of the money,” Price said, noting he is the lowest paid full-time district administrator in the Central Wisconsin Conference (CWC).
With 32 years of experience, Price’s current salary is $96,000, compared to the next lowest CWC full-time district administrator in Shiocton (24 years experience), who has a salary of $98,852. The average salary for a CWC district administrator is $107,526.
“The administrative staff stayed because we like working here,” Price said. “I-S is a great school district anyway you want to measure it.”
Price believes the I-S School District “could be a wonderful opportunity for someone to come and be district administrator.”
“So, if the board asks, I will give a very careful recommendation,” he said. “Hiring a district administrator is the most important job a school board does.”
At the May 14 board meeting, Price was asked who he would recommend to serve as an interim district administrator. He replied that only one person on the I-S staff has the required advanced degree – Elementary Principal Tess Lecy-Wojcik.
“Whatever you need, I will help,” Lecy-Wojcik told the board.
Joseph Price grew up Eau Claire and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in education – psychology and sociology. He began his teaching career at Chisago Lakes High School, 1980-83; Regis High School, 1983-86, and Goodrich High School, 1986-94.
Price received a Master’s degree in educational leadership from Marian University, Fond du Lac, in 1994. From 1994-95 he served as assistant principal at De Forest High School, before coming to I-S in 1995.
It was Chester Fraley who encouraged him to pursue an educational specialist’s degree in educational administration. He wanted Price ready to take over the district administrator position when he retired.
Price earned the degree from UW-Superior in 2004, a few years after he succeeded Fraley.