Tonganoxie — The Tonganoxie school district’s superintendent will not return to his post when his contract ends in June, but will remain with the district until retirement in 2010.
By a 7-0 vote at Monday’s board meeting, the board approved the measure not to renew Superintendent Richard Erickson’s contract. However, the board did approve Erickson being transferred to a new position — special projects manager — which will begin after his current contract expires and will conclude June 30, 2010. In addition, the board approved Erickson’s retirement, which will be July 10, 2010.
Asked what the new part-time position will entail, board President Diane Truesdell and Vice President Leana Leslie said Erickson would report to his replacement and assist with special projects the new superintendent assigns.
In a written statement, Erickson said he was thankful to the supporters who wrote or made phone calls on his behalf during the past month. He said it was through their efforts that he would be allowed to finish his career in the district.
“A special thanks to the wonderful building administrators, educators and a number of great board members that I have had the opportunity to work with over the past 13 years,” Erickson also wrote. “My two children, and I believe all children in USD 464, have benefited from the great work of the above listed people.”
Roughly 50 people attended the meeting, with nearly 20 of them meeting individually with the board in executive session. Each had three minutes to express their views.
When the board announced its decision, many people filed out of the Tonganoxie Middle School library, as some could be heard saying “shame on you” and “this is a sad day for Tonganoxie.”
Leavenworth County resident Joyce Williams said Erickson “knows what he’s doing” and is a good person, adding the decision was a “copout.”
In December, the board narrowly voted, 4-3, its intent not to renew Erickson’s contract. Asked whether the decision was a compromise, Truesdell responded that it was unanimous.
Board members haven’t commented about Erickson since the initial vote took place in December, saying they wouldn’t discuss personnel matters.
Erickson came to Tonganoxie in 1996. Supporters have pointed out the district has improved during his tenure, and a $25.3 million school bond issue passed in 2004.
In 2007, he was the subject of a contract buyout of an assistant administrator and a tax filing error that cost taxpayers nearly $370,000. Erickson rectified the error by lowering the mill levy this year and figuring in interest.