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Saturday

April 2014

19

Longtime Oconomowoc superintendent, Neudecker, announces retirement

Oconomowoc Area School District - Longtime Superintendent Pat Neudecker plans to retire at the end of the school year.

Neudecker has been with the district for 13 years, serving the last nine years as superintendent.

She came to the district as principal of Oconomowoc Middle School in January 1999 and was made director of curriculum in 2000.

She holds a master's degree in administration and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Neudecker send an email to board members Dec. 12 in which she noted that she planned to tell her staff the following day. Her resignation is expected to be accepted at the School Board meeting tonight.

"It's difficult to find words to explain how you'll miss Pat. She has been such a steadying force for the district and is so connected with the community and has so much respect from the community. It's hard to let go," said School Board President Don Wiemer.

Neudecker has steered the district through challenging times that included failing facilities and dire financial straits. She is credited with shepherding the district out of a perilous financial condition that she inherited when a $2.7 million deficit was discovered in 2004.

Under her leadership, the district reorganized its business services department, made budget cuts, placed a freeze on expenditures and hired Mike Barry to be assistant superintendent of business services.

Neudecker saw positive results from efforts she led to build new schools and construct additions to Oconomowoc High School.

It was on her watch that the community passed a $49.6 million building referendum after several previous failed attempts by her predecessor. Two new intermediate schools, a new performing arts center and a field house addition at the high school were greenlighted by voters in 2006. In addition, Neudecker has led the district to become the fastest-growing school district in the county, and among the fastest-growing districts in the state.

Since 2003-04, enrollment has surged by about 1,000 students.

Other accomplishments for the superintendent include a three-year, $1.4 million plan for technology improvements, which broke the project into three phases. Phase 1 included upgraded electrical service and routers. The second phase installed wireless receiver technology and network switches in each school, and lastly a fiber-optic network connected the schools.

"I understand Pat's motivation. She has parents and children and grandchildren, and she wants to spend time with them," Board member Mike Bickler said of her retirement.

"She's been working very, very hard for a long time in Oconomowoc, and it's time for family. Part of me is very selfish and sad to see her go, and another part is happy for her. I'm very conflicted," Bickler added.

Wiemer said the board will have to meet to decide how to proceed in looking for her replacement.

"What is so great is that I believe the School District will attract top people looking for a superintendent job. We have newer facilities, growing enrollment and great staff. Pat's got the foundation, the walls built and the roof on. Now we have to move it forward," Wiemer said.

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