Two of Lawrence's top school administrators announced their retirements Wednesday, opening a void in the district's leadership.
Deputy Superintendent Bruce Passman and Chief Operations Officer Mary Rodriguez will step down effective June 30. Their retirements will coincide with Superintendent Randy Weseman's.
Those familiar with the situation expressed regret that Passman and Rodriguez are leaving but believe the vacancies will make it easier to attract a new superintendent to Lawrence.
"Doing it early gives the board a lot more options in that context," Weseman said.
"We're obviously sorry to see them go. They've given good service to this district," said school board President Craig Grant. "They've been great partners with Randy, and now we need to move forward to find replacements for them."
Rodriguez, 54, who will conclude 31 years in the school district, said the time was right for her to exit.
"I don't know if there's ever a good time, but it certainly seems like (it) with Randy leaving. I just wanted to allow the board plenty of time to go ahead and advertise and move forward with that," she said.
School board Vice President Scott Morgan said the three senior leaders worked closely together, and it made sense they would retire at the same time.
"Those three work so well together and were such an interwoven team. It made sense when we heard they were all going to go," he said. Grant is expected to discuss the search for a new superintendent during Monday's school board meeting.
Passman, 59, who will conclude his second stint with the district, began his career in 1975 as a special education teacher. He was then the district's special services coordinator until 1984, when he left to join the Blue Valley school distract.
He returned to Lawrence in 2002, as executive director of student services. He was appointed deputy superintendent in 2005.
"I feel privileged to have served the district," he said. "It's been a good ride. Hopefully, we've left a great system that will continue to do great things for the kids and teachers and parents."
Rodriguez began her career in 1978 as a business teacher at Lawrence High School. In 1995, after 17 years, she was named associate principal, then moved to the district administration as human resources director in 1999. Sine 2007, she has been chief operations officer, overseeing several departments, including human resources, finance and facilities and operations.
"The best thing about this job is definitely working with the people in the district, and this community has been wonderful," she said. "That's what makes this job very pleasant. I've enjoyed it tremendously."
While Rodriguez said the district will lose the historical perspective of the three administrators, she said it opens the door for the new superintendent to pave his or her own way.
Weseman said many members of the district's staff are at retirement age, making it likely the district will continue to see a steady stream of retirements in coming years. In 2006-07, four district veterans retired, forcing the district to shuffle administrative responsibilities.