PW-S District gets to work filling another top position

Shortly after naming new superintendent, board now must find new middle school principal
Ozaukee Press staff

No sooner did the Port Washington-Saukville School District name its next superintendent than it began the process of finding a new middle school principal.

The School Board last month accepted the retirement request of Steve Sukawaty, who after seven years at the helm of Thomas Jefferson Middle School and a 35-year career in education will step down on June 30.

“I love what I’m doing, but when you’ve been doing it for 35 years you get to the point where you need to take the off ramp to something else,” Sukawaty said in an interview last week.

The district is currently advertising for a new leader of one of its two largest schools and intends to hire that person using the same process it did to select Rachel Biertzer as principal of Port Washington High School last year, Supt. Dave Watkins said.

After an initial screening of applicants, groups of “stakeholders” — everyone from students and parents to other district residents and employees — will winnow the list of candidates to three finalists in multiple rounds of interviews.

A group of administrators and board members will interview the finalists and make a recommendation to the full School Board.

Applications for the job are due by Dec. 18. Interviews will be conducted in January, and the board is expected to approve the hiring of a middle school principal in February, Watkins said. That person will begin work in the district on July 1.

That process is decidedly different than the one the School Board used to name a new superintendent last month.

Hired last year to lead the district, Watkins stunned board members in October by submitting his resignation, effective June 30.

The board decided in closed session not to conduct a search for a new superintendent but instead promote Director of Business Services Mel Nettesheim to the position.

Hiring has consumed the board recently. In addition to Biertzer, Director of Instruction Tammy Thompson Kapp and Director of Special Education Brian Sutton are new to the district this school year.

Watkins is in his second school year as superintendent and Nettesheim came to the district in January 2021.

Most of the vacancies filled by the board recently, like the one it now must deal with at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, were due to retirements.

“I am so humbled and grateful for the opportunity to work within the Port Washington-Saukville School District,” Sukawaty wrote in a letter to Watkins. “My only regret is that it was far too short.

“I have spent 35 years in education and I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with many excellent educators. Our district is filled with people who care enough to do the hard work that is necessary.”

Sukawaty, 58, who was principal of Marshfield High School before coming to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, said he doesn’t know what the next chapter of his life will bring but that retirement will allow him and his wife to move to northern Wisconsin and give them time to visit their daughter, who will graduate from Port High in June, at college.

“My wife Lisa and I love northern Wisconsin and I believe a small cabin on a lake may be in our future,” he said. “Our daughter Nya will be heading off to college and we want to be able to visit her whenever we want. I’m sure she will be thrilled to hear that.”


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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