Accepts superintendent job
By Erik Buchinger
Lance Bagstad will resign from his position at the Clintonville High School principal to become the superintendent at the Arcadia Public School District.
Bagstad will have spent 12 years in Clintonville, with his last day in the district on June 30 officially. His next job will start on July 1.
“I would like to say thank you to the Clintonville community for what it has been for me and my family,” Bagstad said. “I’d like to thank all the people for their friendship and acquaintances and for allowing us to become members of the community the 12 years we were here. It’s a bitter-sweet move. I’m very excited to make the move into the next phase of my educational career with the opportunities and challenges in the Arcadia School District, but I’m certainly going to miss the staff and all the people that are here in the Clintonville community. That’s for sure.”
Bagstad was hired as the associate principal of Clintonville High School in 2006 and became the principal on 2009. He said changing the grading system and the school day scheduling were two highlights that he is most proud of in his time as the high school principal.
“When I was here for a while and then when I took over as principal, it was about making sure we had systems in place that were going to be good for kids,” Bagstad said. “We looked at changing our grading policy, which we did do, to try to create a system that was more about competency results rather than just completing things. Probably the biggest change has been our schedule change when we went from an eight-period day to the alternating-day blocks. At the end of the day, it was about making decisions that were going to be good for kids and staff in the long run. Hopefully we’ve seen some of those things to fruition, and they will be there for a while to come yet.”
When he got into education 25 years ago, Bagstad said his plan was to go from a teacher to a leadership to eventually the superintendent.
“If I think back 25 years ago, I probably would have predicted I made these steps sooner than I have, but because of a lot of the things that were going on, whether I was teaching and coaching or with some of the things we had going on here, I slowed that process down a little bit,” Bagstad said. “I’m very glad I did because I think the amount of time I spent in the classroom teaching prepared me to be a better principal, and the amount of time I spent with this job has better prepared me to be a superintendent.”
Bagstad earned his superintendent license nearly two years ago and decided to start taking a look at other jobs while his daughter is set to graduate later this spring from Clintonville High School.
After applying to a few different places, Bagstad interviewed and was offered the job in Arcadia, which is closer to where he and his wife, Tami, who is the principal of Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School, are originally from.
Bagstad said Tami is currently looking at job opportunities in western Wisconsin.
“In the immediate future, unless something pops up, she’s going to continue in the position right now, and we’ll see what the next few months bring,” Bagstad said. “We’ve talked about if a situation didn’t arise for her, it’s possible she would stay here and I head there and make it work for the short term, and figure it out as we move forward. Ultimately, the goal would be that she land something near where I’ll be at and make the full move there, so we’ll see what happens.”
Bagstad filled in as the interim superintendent after Tom O’Toole resigned from the position during the summer of 2017. He said it gave him good experience for his next job.
“One of the things I saw differently from there is you’re concerned about the entire staff, the entire student body instead of just the student body or staff in your building,” Bagstad said. “I describe it as seeing things from a 30,000-foot view in that role. You see it from a different level to make sure you’re making the right decisions for everyone involved in the institution.”
Bagstad said he offered to take the superintendent position full-time.
“I did meet with one of the board members and made that offer, and the comment was made that, ‘We’re not sure how it would look to the community with your wife being the elementary principal,’ so that was why the board decided to go that direction,” Bagstad said. “It is what it is. That was fine too. I look at it as that was a decision that was made, and it opened up an opportunity for me to explore other things.”
Bagstad said he will miss the relationship-building with the community as well as his staff at Clintonville the most.
“When I announced it to the staff last Tuesday, I told the staff that if I was going somewhere that had a completely empty high school, I’d try to pack them all up and take them right with me. We’ve got a great teaching staff, a great support staff, great food service and great custodial. I’ve got two secretaries out front that if I could find a way to take them with me, I would because they’re phenomenal people. It’s a great office to work in with the staff and obviously the students.”
Bagstad said the communication in the school district has improved.
“Over the last few months, we tried to open up the lines of communication between the school board, teaching staff and administrative staff and try to get that a little more open,” Bagstad said. “Hopefully those things will continue into the future as well.”
Bagstad encouraged the next high school principal to continue to build relationships with the students and staff. He also advised to take everything in the first year at the school.
“I think the first thing is step back, sit, listen and learn especially in that first year,” Bagstad said. “Figure out what the culture is, the climate of the building, figure out what works and start to identify some things that person might be able to make changes to that is going to make this his or her building when he or she comes into the building and becomes that leader.”