District hires interim administrator

Retired Chilton district administrator will fill in for one year as School Board embarks on search

Claire Martin
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Cedar Grove-Belgium School Board last Friday approved a contract for Claire Martin to serve as district administrator this year, after the unplanned retirement of Jeanne Courneene due to family reasons.

“The district has a phenomenal reputation for quality instruction and a very hard-working staff,” Martin said of Cedar Grove-Belgium.

Martin most recently was Chilton School District’s superintendent for nine years before retiring in 2016. She has worked as an elementary school principal in Oshkosh, director of elementary education and K-12 director of curriculum for the Neenah School District and a teacher.

Since retiring, Martin has taught superintendency classes for the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh; worked for Nexus Solutions, a project management and facility planning company that works with school districts; and worked for Don Stevens and Associates, an educational executive search firm.

Martin said those part-time positions will be scaled back while she works full time for the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District.

Martin said she has already talked to the district’s principals. Her objective, she said, is to help maintain the good elements and traditions in the district during a transitional year.

“I’m there to help them achieve their goals,” she said.

She said she wants the district to get “well positioned before it selects its permanent superintendent.”

Martin said she is not a candidate.

“I’m just a bridge to the next superintendent,” she said.

Martin’s experience in Chilton, she said will serve her well. The two districts are similar in size and structure, each with one elementary, middle and high school each all on the same campus. The district offices are at the high school with a view of the other two schools across athletic fields.

“To have facilities so centrally located, I think, is wise planning,” she said.

Martin is renting a duplex in the area but lives in Minoqua, where she said she plans to spend time with her husband on occasional weekends.

The district hired Martin after Courneene retired a few weeks ago. Courneene, a former principal of the district’s middle school, was superintendent for five years. She spent 21 years in the district.

The School Board worked with the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators to find a candidate to fill the position for a year.

“The district is very fortunate to have Dr. Claire Martin at the helm for this next year,” board President Chad Hoopman said.

Martin will be paid $140,000, which Hoopman said is on par with other district administrators in the area. She is not taking health or dental insurance and the district is not contributing to a tax sheltered annuity. The contract does not include a payout of unused vacation or sick days.

The district is providing Martin with as much as $10,000 toward rent payments for her housing.

“With less expenditures in all of the other compensation areas, that is something that the board was willing to help with to get someone of Dr. Martin’s calibre to come in and lead our district,” Hoopman said.

The board plans to post the position in mid-December and does not plan to use a search firm, Hoopman said.

“We want to bring in a candidate that will fit the culture of our school and community. We intend to look for candidates who have had dynamic curriculum and leadership experience, which may include prior District Administrator experience,” he said.

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