Archive for Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lawrence public schools superintendent will retire at the end of the year

Superintendent Randy Weseman and school board President Craig Grant talk about Weseman's decision to retire and some of his accomplishments in his 33 years in Lawrence Public Schools.

August 28, 2008, 10:46 a.m. Updated August 29, 2008, 12:00 a.m.


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School service

Randy Weseman held many positions in his 33 years working for Lawrence public schools.

1976: Joins the district as a high school history, economics and government teacher.

1979-1984: Teaches social studies at Central Junior High and also coaches football, basketball and track.

1984-1990: Joins administration as assistant principal at West Junior High.

1990-1994: Serves as principal of South Junior High.

1994: Joins district administration as division director of curriculum.

1995-2000: Serves as assistant superintendent.

July 1, 2000: Appointed interim superintendent.

Oct. 23, 2000: School board approves Weseman as superintendent.

Aug. 28, 2008: Announces retirement, effective June 30, 2009.

When Randy Weseman was a boy growing up in the western Kansas town of Dighton, he always saw himself living in Lawrence. It was a calling, he said. But he didn't imagine himself as an educator.

"I thought I'd be playing guitar at the Red Dog Inn," he mused to a gathering of teachers and administrators.

And while he may have played a few gigs here and there, Weseman, who announced his retirement as district superintendent Thursday, ended up spending 33 years in Lawrence public schools.

"This is the only school district I ever wanted to work in, and this is the only school district I ever will work in," he said.

Weseman is in the final year of a three-year contract. He will retire effective June 30, by which point the school board hopes to have a replacement.

Search for replacement

School board president Craig Grant said the board would likely implement a national search to find a new superintendent, beginning next month.

"It's going to be difficult to find somebody with the qualities we need to lead us on, but that's what we're going to be doing," Grant said, adding that the next superintendent probably "will not come from within."

Weseman spent his entire career in Lawrence, beginning as a student teacher. He began serving as superintendent in 2000, following stints as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, curriculum director and assistant superintendent.

'No better place'

"I've always said that I would begin and end my career in public education in the Lawrence public schools. There is no better place to be," Weseman said.

He was named interim superintendent on July 1, 2000, following the resignation of Kathleen Williams, who accepted a position in Chicago after two contentious years on the job.

He oversaw budget cuts and layoffs, academic score improvements and technological advances. He even offered to resign following criticism of his six-figure salary in 2003.

Weseman, 59, said the time was right to retire. He said he had been thinking of retirement for about a year and had informed the board of his plans in early August.

Praise for results

Weseman's peers complimented him as a competent administrator and a dedicated educator.

"This is the leadership of an administrator with really a personal investment in our school district," Grant said. "The community shouldn't underestimate what it takes to lead this school district."

"Randy's been really masterful at understanding our budget and identifying for the board possibilities to consider," said school board member John Mitchell. He cited instances this past year where Weseman helped work the budget to reduce the mill levy and facilitate a raise for teachers.

Grant said Weseman's oversight in improving student scores and bringing prestige to the district would be missed.

He cited a 2005 $63 million bond issue to improve facilities and technology, this spring's local-option budget, the implementation of eight full-day kindergarten classes, the expansion of English as a Second Language programs and teacher professional development as some of Weseman's successes.

As Weseman worked to improve education in the district, he never lost sight of why he became an educator. While high test scores and the leadership of teachers always pleased him, nothing stood out more than commencement.

"For me, it's always at the end of year when I see those kids graduate," he said.

He praised teachers and said collaboration was the way to make a difference.

"None of us, individually, can make anything happen," he said. "But, collectively, we make great things happen."

Weseman to step down in June

The longtime leader of the Lawrence School District announces his retirement. Randy Weseman has worked in the Lawrence Public School District for the last 33 years.


Brent Garner 9 years, 10 months ago

Good riddance to bad rubbish!I remember Mr. Weseman telling me that educating my daughter, who has disabilities, was a waste of tax dollars.I remember sitting in Mr. Weseman's office to talk to him about why the district was not compling with my daughter's IEP and instead him threatening to call the police simply because I insisted on tape recording the meeting. Why did I want to record the meetinig? Because Weseman had alredy told me too many lies and I wanted proof of what he said.I remember the anti-disability attitude fostered and encouraged by Mr. Weseman throughout the senior positions in this district.It was Weseman behind the retaliation against me when I submitted an ADA complaint against the district.It was Weseman's puppet, Passman, who sat in a meeting telling me my child with disabilities couldn't have bus transportation even though both Kansas Law and the IDEA said she should. The Office of Civil Rights had to be brought in to convince the tyrants that they were wrong.Good riddance to bad rubbish! Too bad it didn't happen sooner!

lawrencemom 9 years, 10 months ago

This is a true loss for our district. To have a person at the helm so devoted to Lawrence students has been an exceptional will be hard if not impossible to replace Weseman. Best of luck Randy!

Take_a_letter_Maria 9 years, 10 months ago

Steve, I mean joehawk, I know more than you can even possibly be aware.The Lawrence district run better than any other district in Kansas, give me a break.And as for your remark about being careful about what I wish for, that's why I said the district had to do it the right way or it could end up even worse. Reading comprehension isn't one of your strong suits. It doesn't appear judging people is either.

Paula Kissinger 9 years, 10 months ago

This is not is joyful news. It is also encouraging to know that their recent SOP of searching outside the district, although causing many qualified individuals to be passed over in the recent past, might lead to the position being filled by someone actually qualified for the job instead of the "heir apparent" within the district. Our kids might have a better chance if someone that truly cared for their welfare and education were to take charge. And thank God I only have 1 more child with only 2 more years left in the district.

Thinking_Out_Loud 9 years, 10 months ago

I disagree with PapaB's notion that a qualified candidate for the Superintendency can be found at half Weseman's salary.

twoton 9 years, 10 months ago

Randy has done a great job for Lawrence students for many years. The stability he brought to the superintendency was so needed after the parade of out-of-state hires. Lets hope that the "national" search does not end up like the two previous "national" searches. Dr. Passman who has shown his committment to our schools would make an excellent candidate! Thanks Randy!!

Steve Jacob 9 years, 10 months ago

Outsiders are fine, just saying don't expect them to stay forever.

Bassetlover 9 years, 10 months ago

My God, people! If this blog was put in a time capsule and buried for 100 years, what in the world would those who come after us surmise of the residents of Lawrence in 2008 after reading these comments? We are creating a horrible legacy and proof once again that our society has gone to hell in a handbasket. For Lawrence to be the most highly-educated community in Kansas, I think the commentary here lowers our collective IQ. To publicly flog a 33-year public servant for all his years of service and leadership is mind-bloggling, even if you don't agree with every decision he made. Why would anyone want to become a teacher/school administrator when you have these types of comments to look forward to upon your retirement? Shame, shame, shame. How sad we aren't better than this.

thelonious 9 years, 10 months ago

No kids in the local schools, no direct or indirect contacts with Mr. Weseman, have lived in the Lawrence community for only six years after relocating from the KC area. From what I have been able to observe through public statements, news coverage, etc., I have been.....not that impressed. My impression is that Mr. Weseman and the Lawrence School Board are similar to the City Government of Lawrence - ran by long-time local insiders, insular, overly concerned about a few local movers and shakers, etc. My opinion is that this community needs to be shaken up, be it city government, school district, Lawrence Arts Center, etc. - get some outsiders in with a fresh perspective and give them a free hand to correct some of the problems that grow inside these kind of "insular" institutions. Nothing personal against Mr. Weseman, but probably a good time for a change.

Alia Ahmed 9 years, 10 months ago

pilch,That's mean and what does Randy's daughter's personal life have to do with this story, anyway?

Escapee 9 years, 10 months ago

Go home, Bassettlover!! What an obvious academician you are!! Always needing praise...just for being in the job!! Get real, buddy. We need a change. And, by the way, no -- he wasn't a wonderful leader. In fact, he was much like you sound to be...a whining, sniveling, dinosaur of a choice. Take your time capsule and retire with him. Please.Yes, whomever takes this position will have to have the balls to stand up to criticism. There will be plenty. Mostly from...the 'insiders'. That's the nature of the beast. Take it or leave it. As they say, can't take the heat...get out of the kitchen.

CeeCee 9 years, 10 months ago

Gross... just got home from work and had to listen to his disgusting voice on my answering machine telling us of his retirement. I thought that notification system was suppose to be for emergencies.I agree with Motomom, thanks for nothing weaselman.

Paul R Getto 9 years, 10 months ago

Good job, Randy and good luck. Everyone "knows" how to be a superintendent; few can succeed in the eye of the hurricane. Lawrence is better for your efforts and your long service.

PapaB 9 years, 10 months ago

I am glad to see him go. We need to hire someone for half the salary, and get someone who doesn't think that grade schools need like three new $$$ pieces of technology that all do the same thing to teach our kids. I went to my kid's parent night and saw a bunch of tech that the teacher only knew the basic uses of and I had to hold my tongue as she fiddled with them to get them working. Then she pointed all the new toys she had that seemed to all do the same thing. I like seeing the tech bond money going to waste.

volunteer 9 years, 10 months ago

We are so highly educated here in Lawrence that we cannot determine how to give teachers "collaboration" opportunities without dismissing students at 1:30 on Wednesdays. We are so highly educated that we do not give the elementary teachers a 30-minute, duty-free lunch.Folks in surrounding communities, who have figured out solutions to both of these issues, may snicker every time they read a blogger boast about how well-educated a community Lawrence is. Well-educated certainly does not mean wise.

Escapee 9 years, 10 months ago

'Lawrencemom' -- wow, how fitting! You, too. Hitch a ride, girlie. The road ahead is for those who see clearly.Clearly, not you, Mom!You know, this isn't about being 'nice' or 'not nice'. It's about assessing things the way they are, evaluating what is needed. And then choosing a new person who is qualified to address the issues. Clearly, people are not satisfied with the status quo -- except for those of you who have something to lose by acknowledging that not everything is as good as it could/should be. Come on, folks! Clear out the cobwebs and clean up the joint. These are our children! They deserve better. Bring it into the new millennium -- at least!! And, btw, touting Lawrence as the most educated community in Kansas -- not sayin' much, kids. More cows than peeps here....

multiagelearner 9 years, 10 months ago

Maybe USD 497 should look for a superintendent with an actual degree...not just the beginning of one. Now that the "sheriff" is gone hopefully his deputy, Bruce Passman, is going too. One novel idea would be to hire someone on the merit of their application, not who they know or who they are. Current administrators should all be off the list. They all have their own special agendas. Find someone who can think, speak, and act like an educated professional. Can't think of any current administrator who fits that bill.

Escapee 9 years, 10 months ago

Now, now Multi -- wouldn't that be 'throwing the bath water out with the baby'? (Or something like that!) Probably true that like minds have teamed up on the old panel -- but there is SOME merit there, I think. This isn't a bash the old, bring on the new.... Just an old fashioned 'get down to business' kind of assessing and evaluating of our needs. Then -- search for the person who possesses the track record for 'fixing' these issues. We have financial issues. Find a candidate who has tackled some of those kinds of issues and can COMMUNICATE the problem accurately, and then problem solve the issue. We have (in my opinion) issues with the quality of teachers in our schools. Let's find someone who has sources with the cream of the crop of teachers -- wherever they may be from!!! Let's compete for the best. We have problems (in my opinion) working with all members of our schools' communities -- not just the good old boys network of cronies and mommas. Let's find someone who acknowledges the need for cohesiveness in the participation of all members of our school families. These aren't issues peculiar only to Lawrence, KS!!! All administrators must be schooled on strategies to resolve these types of issues today. And if the candidates that are currently sitting on the panel don't have that expertise...they should retire too. We need action. We need passionate educators. We need people who care about our children. We need people who care about the future of the Lawrence Public School System!!!

kujayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

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Hilary Morton 9 years, 10 months ago

No matter who is in that position will be vilified by our city. That comes along with the job, unfortunately. It's a tough job, and whoever holds the position takes the fall every time something goes sour in the 18 elementary, 4 jr highs and 2 high schools.I'd hate to see a wonderful administrator in our city have hardships as a sup., and we'd lose them forever. Hopefully, they will find a great replacement that's right for our city. I can't imagine how hard that hiring process is...

Escapee 9 years, 10 months ago

Hawk, ideally...would you really want to hear the same five names in that category cycle after cycle after cycle??? Isn't this 'in-breeding' sort of inclusive/exclusive activity exactly what begets these messy, confrontational kinds of situations to begin with?True, leaders will emerge for most hot topics in a community. But if those 'leaders' do not fulfill their roles in keeping the peace and bettering the community...the BEST THING THAT CAN new blood.I'm just sayin'....

Take_a_letter_Maria 9 years, 10 months ago

I heard about this last night. There are a couple of other announcements coming shortly that will also please me, provided of course the district fill the positions properly. If they don't do it the right way, it could end up as more of the same (or believe it or not even worse.)

DreamWarrior 9 years, 10 months ago

CONGRATS Mr. Weseman!! indeed a great person! he was my principal at SJHS. And showed his condolensces as members of my family passed away a couple of years ago in a fire. Enjoy your retirement!!!

Steve Jacob 9 years, 10 months ago

"Outsiders" stay for 2-5 years and move to bigger things, so you want that? Just look at the Kathleen Williams, and what happened at the LAC.

mom_of_three 9 years, 10 months ago

I really can't tell what kind of job Dr. Weseman has done. I just know that when the school funding was reduced for tons of school districts, that our fees went almost triple. Then, when most of the funding was restored by the state, our fees weren't reduced, except for busing. Our fees are some of the highest in the state. So maybe someone could manage the funds better, I don't know.

Shockem211 9 years, 10 months ago

I am happy to see him go. I was severely harassed and threatened to be killed in 8th grade at West Junior High. My mother met with Mr Weseman several times and his idea of solving the problem was to sit the parents down. That did nothing but make the problem worse. He was not the least bit concerned and told my mother "That's just kids being kids." The only other idea he had was to have me sit in In School Suspension everyday to help shelter me. Why should I be punished, when I was the victim? Well, thanks to him and his advice, my mother spent 8000 a year to put me in private school for my safety. I am thrilled to see him go. All it takes in one bad experience to change your opinion of someone.

Escapee 9 years, 10 months ago

Weseman ran a sloppy ship. Yes, there are some wonderful teachers in Lawrence public schools -- but there are too many obvious 'hangers-on' that are dinosaurs in the system. He didn't strive to make the schools the best they could be. He wanted to be a hero for the teachers and keep the money flowing. Money is hardly all there is to teaching our children today. The atmosphere in the public schools in Lawrence needs great improvements. They need to get rid of the good ol' boy system that allows gramma moses to retain her chalkboard privileges. And they need to have discipline in the schools -- even for those children of parents who are friends of the administration. My children were taunted by a kid at LHS who was never, NEVER reprimanded for the lousy things he did to my daughters. Even the kid laughed that he got away with it. He knew he was wrong. These 'townie' kids, and 'townie' parents will be the bane of the school system forever if it's not stopped.My vote would be for an 'outsider' if only for the reason that this problem in particular is SO OBVIOUS to anyone who comes into Lawrence fresh -- that it would be an unavoidable priority to be addressed.Our children deserve better.... Raise the bar. Please.

TriSigmaKS 9 years, 10 months ago

Such a loss, good luck to him in his retirement!

Escapee 9 years, 10 months ago

Are you concentrating on the fact that a person might be (God Forbid!) an 'Outsider'? (My point precisely.) Or that he/she may be the person to bring something better to the table -- ie. knowledge, atmosphere, direction, 'order'?Srj, it seems you have provided the perfect example of what is wrong with the Lawrence Public Schools. You are AFRAID OF CHANGE. Relax, dear. Things just might get better. You don't have to be an 'insider' to be good at something. And in a town where EVERY YEAR the college faculty brings in 'outsiders' to place children in the schools -- it would be nice to be able to be more well-rounded than employing ONLY folks with Lawrence lineage! It's so ridiculous! 'Outsiders' do not have the same unwelcome attitude that you do, dear. They came here to better their lives and find quality schools for their children. Let some 'outsiders' meld with those 'insiders' and maybe stir up the best of quality and atmospheres yet! Take off the blinders!! Open your eyes and your hearts a little more. You'd be surprised at what you might learn!

Escapee 9 years, 10 months ago

Thelonious, your observations would be shared by many if they were so inclined to report their opinions here. The public schools of a small town community are an integral part of its culture -- be it a college town or not. It is time for a 'shake up' -- but a 'shake up' almost sounds like a negative thing. A CHANGE would be a GOOD thing. It's a necessary thing in all institutions that are willing to move forward and seek to be better. To simply be satisfied, or in this case...paralyzed the status quo, is unconscionable.Every candidate has their 'expertise'. This time around it needs to be someone who can bring order and (dare I say?) fairness to the atmosphere in Lawrence.

coolmom 9 years, 10 months ago

thats to bad i really like mr. weseman and think he did as good a job as anyone can do.

KsTwister 9 years, 10 months ago

It would do well for Lawrence if he doesn't have a voice for his replacement nor the school board that has taken our schools down academically and structurally.

Stephen Roberts 9 years, 10 months ago

I am glad he is going to retire. He has two leadership styles- divide an conquer and fire, treat so badly, or not renew theri contract anyone who disagrees with them.Does anyon ever know what happened to the para who spoke out against closing East Heights a few years back. I don't recall her working for the district the very next year.Maybe Randy will go into politics. Too me, he is just as bad a Dennis Moore (insert the name of a terrible local politician).

Sieb 9 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Weseman is not a doctor. Just FYI

lawrencemom 9 years, 10 months ago

Wow. What a hateful lot of folks we have here. Bassetlover nailed it. Say no more.

Escapee 9 years, 10 months ago

'Staying forever' would be a problem...dontchathink???

Richard Heckler 9 years, 10 months ago

Cutting the mil levy for the Chamber does not seem wise considering funding for USD 497 is usually difficult to come by. There is pressure from the Chamber to reduce property taxes and replace that source of revenue with increased user fees such as water,sewer,public school fees,trash,swimming pool rates etc etc. The chamber is gutting public transportation at the same time they push for more expensive sprawling growth.The chamber plays an important role in developing the sprawling high tax dollar bedroom community which of course increases the need for more schools and staff thus increasing the USD 497 budget. Then people scream about the USD 497 budget at the same time they support developer led government....go figure. Makes zero dollars and sense.Now we can only hope the board does bring in someone who can lead the district minus Chamber interference. Someone who realizes the importance of experienced teaching and knows what Lawrence needs to prepare students for the new growing green industry. Green Collar jobs received mention on more than one occasionat the the democratic convention. The democrats have been discussing this issue for a few years. Lawrence does not need warehouse districts! Lawrence needs a healthy Green Collar district and a healthy school district.Our Chamber is years and years behind and for whatever reason cannot think outside their box. Don't expect change because executive leadership thinking does not change.The comments of commuter are not a new concern and some of which I've heard repeatedly. KCMO/JOCO metro has been the lucky district receiving Lawrence teachers. Notice how OP/JOCO consistently attracts new industry that pays higher taxes. Notice how OP/JOCO consistently finds itself in the best places to raise a family. JOCO/OP is not a bedroom community.A well supported public school district is important to our community for our childrens future.

Clickker 9 years, 10 months ago

No need to go nationwide. Mr. Harrod down at South would be the perfect man for the job. And he wants it.

Lori Nation 9 years, 10 months ago

Have a good retirement, thanks for helping to push to have the bus fees reduced. I know it helped us out a lot!Now I hope we will find someone who will help parents and students lower the school fees, even if that means getting rid of board members!!!Please help find someone who will help us reduce or eliminate the school fees!!!!!!

motomom 9 years, 10 months ago

YAY !!!!!!!! byebye weaselman!thanks for nothin'------------------------

iplaysupernintendo 9 years, 10 months ago

I, for one, am happy to see Mr. Weseman move on. See ya!

Bud Stagg 9 years, 10 months ago

Maria,You have no idea what you are talking about. No one is perfect. The Lawrence school district has been very well run in comparison to any other district in Kansas. Considering the challenges that any school district faces, Lawrence has been very well run. I get my opinion from working with many school districts across the nation and in Kansas as a vendor for over 25 years. You have probably based yours on micro-analyzing every move and being hyper-critical. Be careful what you wish for until you have walked in their shoes.

dontslanderme 9 years, 10 months ago

Hot dog! Glad to see him go. He presided over a mediocre school district, and was no friend to students, parents, or educators. He is uncaring, uncompassionate, not a creative thinker. Hoorah. The end of a horrid regime.

Paul R Getto 9 years, 10 months ago

"I disagree with PapaB's notion that a qualified candidate for the Superintendency can be found at half Weseman's salary."======Good point. My prediction: To attract the "right" person, whomever that may be, the total package of salary and benefits will have to approach 200K.

Escapee 9 years, 10 months ago

Instead of worrying about how much you're going to pay him/her -- how 'bout identifying your needs first??? This group has always worried about money first -- and let me tell you -- you have yet to put together a budget that shows you know what you're doing!!! You reap a little -- and sow too much!!! Then, you're stuck again!! After you figure out what you need in a candidate -- how 'bout recruiting someone onto the board who has a financial background that can pull this wagon out of the mud?????

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