River Ridge superintendent departing from district this week

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Lee Pritzl

By Correne Martin

This Friday, Feb. 27 will be Lee Pritzl’s last day as superintendent of River Ridge Schools. After three years in the district, Pritzl is moving back to the Marshfield area due to serious health issues in his family. He said he will select from a couple of job opportunities there—one in education and the other in ministry.

“I’ve got to be there for my family,” he said in a recent interview.

Since Pritzl announced he would be leaving a few weeks ago, he said he’s been overwhelmed by the “gracious and kind people who’ve come forward and said some really nice things I didn’t know they felt.”

Pritzl said he’s grown personally and professionally while at River Ridge. “We’ve worked hard to do things here and I’m thankful that we’ve all shared the common goal of maximizing students’ potential,” he stated.

“I’ve learned to understand who people are and give everybody the benefit of the doubt. I’ve made some genuine friends in the staff, kids and parents who are just amazing, and I really will miss those personal connections. I’m very happy with the relationships I’ve built.”

Pritzl added that he will also miss attending all the school events, such as music concerts and ball games. “It’s always so heartwarming to see people come together for those events,” he said.  

In a special school board meeting Wednesday night, the River Ridge board was expected to approve a contract with an interim superintendent. Also, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards has offered the district its expertise with regard to staff interviews, bringing in well-fit candidates, etc. The process of seeking a permanent superintendent and hiring one will take about one month. Then, the intent will be to have that person in position by July, before the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

In the meantime, a number of personnel have stepped up to fill in any gaps in administration. School Counselor Caron Townsend is acting as dean of students for seventh through 12th grades. Sixth grade teacher Heidi Serres is serving as dean of students for the fifth and sixth grades at the Bloomington campus. Special Education Coordinator Pat Dwyer is now also the Pre-K through fourth grade principal. Business Manager Carol Harris, who had planned to retire after this year, has signed on for another year. Wade Winkers, seventh and eighth grade teacher and athletic director, has taken on additional leadership roles at this time as well.

“It will continue to be a really good environment here,” Pritzl said.

As for his hopes for the district upon his departure, Pritzl said he would like to see the residents come together for the greater good. “I hope they sincerely share a common ground of student achievement, put aside their differences and work toward a great district,” he said.

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