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Update: Laing is Racine Unified Superintendent, Board Happy She Accepted

Board President Bill Van Atta said he's happy Dr. Ann Laing accepted the position.

Update, 8:30 am, Jan. 24: The Racine Unified school board met on Jan. 23 to formally offer Dr. Ann Laing the job of Superintendent of Racine Unified School District.

She has been acting as Interim Superintendent since Dr. Jim Shaw retired last summer.

Her official start date is Feb. 1, 2012 and her contract runs through June 30, 2013. Laing will receive a $5,000 increase to her current $150,000 annual salary on Feb. 1, 2012 when she officially becomes superintendent.

“[The pay increase] is due to the very, very comprehensive nature of the superintendent position,” said school board President Bill Van Atta.

She also will get a bump to $160,000 on July 1, 2012. Her benefits package also includes a $650 a month car allowance, $55 a month for a cell phone and $1,250 a month from the employer contribution to Laing's retirement.

The district may, however, save money on Laing’s contract, as it does not include compensation for health insurance. It does include dental, life, disability and travel insurances, as well as liability protection; sick leave; paid holidays; 30 days of vacation time; workers compensation benefits and jury duty.

Of those benefits, only life insurance and dental insurance are available upon the contract’s termination; all other benefits are inapplicable, according to the contract. 

There’s still work that has to be completed, Laing said, which is what influenced her to remain in the position. Specifically, she said continuing the mission of the North Star, as well as closing the achievement gap between black and white students would be her priorities.

“I thought we were making headway,” Laing said. “And I wanted to continue to make a positive impact on how our schools operate.”

Laing said she has begun a dialogue with a group of African American leaders in the community, including some pastors. She pointed to successes at West Ridge and Jerstad elementary schools as prime examples of white and black students succeeding simultaneously.

“It makes me feel good that people are recognizing that we’re doing a good job,” Laing said. “I know I do have a direct style of dealing with people.”

Van Atta said the process of considering Laing for the permanent position began when he saw the results of numerous Listening and Linking Sessions that the district held with the community to gauge what it wanted to see in an ideal superintendent candidate. 

“The audience kept saying, ‘either hire Ann, or hire someone like Ann,’” Van Atta said. “Her skills, her organizational knowledge, and her dealings with people made her a strong leader, and people are responding to her. It’s something I’ve never seen before.”

Board member Kim Plache agreed.

“I’ve been searching for someone in the community that’s unhappy with her and I’ve been unsuccessful," she said.

School board members met in Executive Session in early December to discuss offering the permanent position to Laing, Van Atta said. He then went to Laing to gauge her interest. After learning she was interested in remaining, the school board again met in executive session to determine the details of Laing’s contract, Van Atta said. 

The district has not yet spent money on any of the search firms interviewed, only requested proposals from them for the work. Since a candidate was not placed, no money will be paid to the search firms, Van Atta said.

The three search firm finalists will be contacted again in the future to conduct the next search, Van Atta said, withtThe goal to have a new superintendent in place by July 1, 2013.

“I’m extremely pleased,” Van Atta said. “I wasn’t sure that Dr. Laing would have interest in staying on. I’m so impressed with her.”

The final vote was 8-0, a unanimous decision even with Gretchen Warner absent. Board member Julie McKenna did make a motion to get more public input on the issue, but no one took up the second. Still, she voted "yes" when Board President Bill Van Atta called the question with a roll call vote.

Laing also presented a letter of resignation to the school board at the meeting, effective June 30, 2013. It read: “I am submitting my intent to resign from the position of Superintendent of the Racine Unified School District as of June 30, 2013. It has been my pleasure serving as Superintendent.”

Update, 7:35 pm: The final vote was 8-0, a unanimous decision even with Gretchen Warner absent. Board member Julie McKenna did make a motion to get more public input on the issue, but no one took up the second. Still, she voted "yes" when Board President Bill Van Atta called the question with a roll call vote.

According to a press release distributed at the meeting, the board is still actively searching for a more long-term Superintendent. Three top search firm candidates remain part of the board's desire to have someone in place when Laing's new contract expires in June 2013.

Here is the full release from the district:

The Racine Unified School District Board of Education has offered Interim Superintendent Dr. Ann Laing a one-year contract extension. Dr. Laing has agreed to stay on as RUSD superintendent through the 2012-2013 school year.

This past fall, as part of the ongoing search for a new RUSD superintendent, the Board of Education held several listening sessions with community and District staff members. A key message heard at those events was that the community and District staff strongly support Dr. Laing in her current role.

The Board believes that Dr. Laing will provide steady leadership over the next year and a half, helping to guide the District through challenges with her breadth and depth of knowledge and experience in education and in the Racine community. Dr. Laing’s organizational and internal knowledge will help the District continue to advance its efforts toward achieving the North Star.

In May, the School Board will resume the search for a long-term superintendent. At that time, the Board will select a search firm from the three finalists that were selected in November. The goal is to have a new superintendent in place by July 2013.

Original Story: The Racine Unified school board met on Jan. 23 to formally offer Dr. Ann Laing the job of Superintendent of Racine Unified School District.

She has been acting as Interim Superintendent since Dr. Jim Shaw retired last summer.

Her official start date is Feb. 1, 2012 and her contract runs through June 30, 2013. Starting salary will be $155,000 a year, but she gets a bump to $160,000 on July 1, 2012. Her benefits package also includes a $650 a month car allowance, $55 a month for a cell phone and $1,250 a month from the employer contribution to Laing's retirement.

Stay with Patch as we update the story.

Chris Larsen January 24, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Just to clarify, my opposition is not to Dr. Laing, but to the process, and some of the perks.
Sandy January 24, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I agree on the process being poor. I also agree on what kind of people the headhunters bring in. Coming up through the ranks (with being an actual teacher included in that) is vitally important as is seeing the children as they should be seen - as incredible minds, not as test score numbers. I have not heard any feedback on her from the public base and one teacher that I did talk to did NOT have anything nice to say about her based on a prior position Laing held. So why can't we run this like a regular election? I vote that parents of public school children and current teachers in our district are polled and asked what they believe is important in the schools and where they can see change coming in. Then candidates who want the job show their credentials and their views on these issues to see where they stand. I also agree that you can get a pretty nice car for under $650/mo and was surprised that the cell allowance was only $55 unless RUSD gets a great discount somewhere. I for one would be totally in agreement with a more montessori approach in our schools. There are way more visual learners in our schools than RUSD thinks and if they want test scores to come up give the kids teachers and curriculum that meet their learning style. Why is this so hard to figure out? On the upside...we are paying her less than the $180,000 Shaw was getting.
Stormy Weather January 24, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I believe that Ann Laing is double dipping, because I thought she was retired. Does anyone have any information on that? I have heard that double dipping is pretty common in RUSD.
Stormy Weather January 25, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Lets compare... Chief Edward Flynn who manages the largest police department in the state receives $146,000.00 a year and his salary is frozen! But the RU$D school board thinks Ann Laing needs a $10,000.00 raise???
Dustin Block January 25, 2012 at 05:05 AM
This brings stability to the district.

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