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Racine Unified Superintendent Dr. Jim Shaw Resigns

The head of Racine's public schools will leave office on Sept. 1. Director of Special Education Ann Laing is likely to be named interim superintendent.

As students return for another school year Sept. 1, that day will likely be Racine Unified Superintendent James Shaw's last day on the job.

Shaw announced his resignation at a press conference Monday afternoon saying, "it was just time" to leave.

William Van Atta, Board of Education president, said Shaw's announcement wasn't a surprise as Shaw had been very open with the Board about his plans.  Dr. Ann Laing, who currently serves as the director of special education for Racine Unified, would serve as the interim superintendent until a new superintendent is found.

"The RUSD Board of Education, the staff, students and community are grateful to Dr. Shaw for the professionalism, dedication and energy to RUSD to advance student learning,” Van Atta said.

Shaw, 66, had come out of retirement when he took the job of one of the largest school districts in the state three years ago. During that time, Shaw has had to cope with failed referendums, changes to the State Aid formula that, in part, resulted in a $25 million shortfall. This led to massive cuts to the district's budget, and staff layoffs. State Republican Legislators also passed a school voucher program that result in additional losses is state funding -- all problems, he said, have been frustrating.

“The referendum was certainly a disappointment,” Shaw said. “But you know, given the time that the referendum occurred, I think it’s understandable that we didn’t get enough support.”

Still, Shaw pointed to the development of North Star, a vision for educating all students. This further led to business partnerships, and a data driven school improvement system to confront meet No Child Left Behind requirements.

“The staff, I think, is also really committed to making the difference,” Shaw said. “The other pleasant surprise that we have in Racine…is that we really have some high-performing children. Racine Unified is not the picture where everyone is struggling. There are pockets of excellence in every one of our schools.”

In the meantime, Laing, who has 22 years as an administrator with RUSD, has been nominated for the job until a replacement could be found.

Laing said her message to the community is that the district will remain stable in its vision.

“We will do everything we can do support kids, and teachers and principals,” Laing said. “And that there shouldn’t be any huge changes with Dr. Shaw leaving and my entering the position because we have a well thought out plan, which will be a good road map for next year.

The Board of Education is expected to vote Tuesday, Aug. 2 on whether to accept Shaw's resignation. Shaw's contract doesn't end until June 30, 2012 and he would need the Board’s approval to be let out of the contract.

Van Atta said the Board would meet to discuss the vacancy and the district’s needs.

“We’re not talking about a rural school district here,” Van Atta said. “We’re talking about an urban district. And it takes a different kind of person that wants to attack an urban school district.”

Brian Dey August 04, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Susan- Data doesn't mean a thing without accountability. That is what has lacked for far too long in RUSD. The board doesn't hold the supt accountable, the supt doesn't hold his staff accountable and so on and so forth. Results are driven by accountability. If the board or supt don't, than who will? We have two choices; get better school board members or withhold resources. Only the first makes sense, yet our community seems to only focus on the second.
Chris Larsen August 04, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Susan I have to disagree with some of your statement. Fixing our schools does need to happen. We rely on the board to make that fix. What this board and this superintendent has done is to improve central office to the tune of 10+ million, selling off the old land in a shady scheme deal, blaming the "uninformed electorate" for the failure of the bloated referendum instead of looking in the mirror, and thinking that increasing the levels of middle management is better then putting people in the classroom. The voters gave the board a clear message, and a huge mandate for change. The board as a whole chooses to ignore it and push ahead with blinders on. With Mr. Van Atta rumored to be the next to go, there is a chance for the board to do the right thing, and put a super and a president in that could make the changes called for by the community. I don't think that will happen. The happy majority (plus Hazen) on the board thinks nothing is wrong, and the vocal minority cant break through. As I have stated for many years now, if Unified wants to get the support of the community back, it needs to listen to the community, not shut them out. For all levels of government, times are changing. Those who cant adapt are bound to fail. Unified is at the crossroads. We are just waiting to see what path they will pick.
Chris Larsen August 04, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Brian, we focus on the second in order to make the first happen. (hopefully)
Drizzit August 22, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Finally the Shah of the beleaguered RUSD has exited stage right. He secured his pension & I'm sure will be taking our tax dollars out of the city & state shortly. He took over & kept the same crooks from his predecessor with the same stagnant results. We need to wrest our children from these ideologues with Utopian disillusions.
Drizzit August 23, 2011 at 12:00 AM
We spend $13,000 per student in Racine & what do we get for this huge investment? We could send our children to some accredited schools for that amount & avoid being stabbed for their i-pod. We have some great teachers & some horrible teachers & we need to start distinguishing for a change.

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