Wakarusa Valley School Principal Elias Espinoza is resigning and will leave the Lawrence district at the end of the school year to pursue other professional opportunities, the district announced Tuesday.
“I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in Lawrence, and I will always remember fondly my time with Wakarusa Valley students, teachers, staff and parents,” Espinoza said in a statement.
Attempts to reach Espinoza were unsuccessful.
Superintendent Rick Doll said Espinoza’s resignation was amicable and “his call.”
Espinoza announced his decision to the school’s faculty and staff Tuesday afternoon.
“He is a good advocate for kids. He was always concerned about kids and always tried to do what was best for kids,” Doll said. “He was always very supportive of the Wakarusa community.”
Espinoza was hired to lead the district’s only rural school building southwest of Lawrence in 2005 coming from L.V. Stockard Middle School in Dallas, where he was principal.
Wakarusa Valley serves 212 students this year. A group of the school’s parents banded together in recent months poring over the district’s budget as board members considered closing elementary schools to address the district’s budget gap.
Espinoza attended several board meetings with parents. Board members on March 9 agreed to make $4.6 million cuts for next year, but they avoided closing any elementary schools for next year.
Board members, who did cut one elementary principal position, also voted to move the East Heights Early Childhood Family Program, which has a principal, into Kennedy School. That school will not have two principals, but Doll said administrators are still working out staffing details. Other than Espinoza, all of the district’s current elementary and early childhood principals are still in the mix for jobs for next year. It’s possible that at least one principal could lead two schools.
“It does give us more flexibility in terms of how we will meet the board mandate,” Doll said of Espinoza’s resignation.
Later this spring, Doll said, the district will announce leadership plans for Wakarusa Valley.