Elk Mound school district superintendent announces retirement
By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — After serving in education for 37 years, Dr. Ron Walsh is ready to call it a day.
Dr. Walsh, who has served in the Elk Mound school district for 23 years and has served as the superintendent for the last 13 years, submitted his request for retirement to the Elk Mound Board of Education at the October 26 meeting.
“This has been three years coming as we’ve worked on our transition program. We are appreciative of Ron staying on,” said Tim Sivertson, president of the Board of Education.
Dr. Walsh has served as an admirable mentor to the principals in the Elk Mound school district and to superintendents in other districts, he said.
“He has had the longest honeymoon of any superintendent I know,” Sivertson said.
Eric Wright, principal at Elk Mound Middle School for 12 years, said he felt fortunate to have Dr. Walsh nurture him in his career.
“If you can learn from a gentleman like this, you are lucky,” Wright said.
Kyle Jensen, vice-president of the Board of Education, noted that Dr. Walsh and the school board have had a unique relationship.
“You mentor us, but we’re your boss,” Jensen said.
“I have learned so much from Dr. Walsh … you have made us all better (people),” Jensen said.
During his time as superintendent at Elk Mound, Dr. Walsh has had an interesting position in the community, Sivertson said.
“You lead in the community, but you are out there alone a lot of the time,” he said.
Dr. Walsh’s longevity in the school district has been helpful for the longevity of the principals at Elk Mound, Sivertson noted.
“I couldn’t have worked in a better place,” Dr. Walsh said.
Dr. Walsh became the superintendent in Elk Mound after Bill Vincent retired as superintendent.
“Bill helped me a lot when I started. I hope I have been as nurturing,” Dr. Walsh said.
Dr. Walsh began working in the Elk Mound Area School District as principal at Elk Mound Middle School in 1993.
Prior to becoming superintendent in 2003, he served as principal at Elk Mound High School.
Before coming to Elk Mound, Dr. Walsh served as an elementary teacher in the Boyceville Community School District and also served seven years as a guidance counselor in the Spooner School District.
During his time in Elk Mound, Dr. Walsh was instrumental in developing the school district’s strategic plan and guided the district through the passing of a $9.325 million referendum and the subsequent construction projects at Mound View Elementary, Elk Mound Middle School and Elk Mound High School.
Dr. Walsh nominated the Elk Mound Board of Education twice for the Magna Award sponsored by the National School Boards Association.
The Elk Mound Board of Education won the Magna Award in 2008 and received an honorable mention in 2014.
Unlike many school districts in the state that have been experiencing declining enrollment, Elk Mound has had an increase in enrollment.
From 2003 until 2015, Elk Mound experienced a 50 percent growth in student population, the most significant growth in the school district’s history, Dr. Walsh noted in his letter requesting retirement.
In 2010, Dr. Walsh earned his doctorate degree in educational leadership from Edgewood College in Madison.
In 2014, Dr. Walsh was named the Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.
In a news release distributed the day after the school board meeting, Dr. Walsh was quoted as saying, “I am saddened to leave such a wonderful school district but look forward to opportunities that may lie ahead. I am so proud of our school board, our administrative team, the district’s professional and support staff and our wonderful students. I feel that it is love, trust and respect that defines our district’s leadership and has helped spawn steadily increasing growth in our school district. Growth that comes from a garden of love, trust and respect will create a harvest of prosperity year after year.”
The Elk Mound Board of Education has been working to develop a transition plan for several years that includes the retirement of several long-time school board members as well as the anticipation of Dr. Walsh’s retirement, Sivertson said.
This past spring, Margaret Dieter, who served on the school board for 27 years, did not seek re-election, and prior to that, long-time school board members Bill Moore and Jim Holte retired from the board.
Moore served on the Elk Mound school board for 15 years, and Holte served on the board for 18 years.
The Elk Mound Board of Education is working with a consultant from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to assist in the hiring of a new superintendent, Sivertson said.
“We will have a plan to hire a new superintendent in the near future. We will apprise the community of this plan in the district newsletter and social media when it is developed,” he said.
A farewell event for Dr. Walsh will be held at Elk Mound High School in the spring of 2016.
The Elk Mound Board of Education voted unanimously to accept Dr. Walsh’s request for retirement.