By Charles Collier, The Denmark News
Will remain until school year, referendum construction complete
DENMARK—On Monday, November 13, the Denmark Board of Education officially accepted the resignation of varsity football coach Chris Haese, capping his seven years at the helm of Viking football’s highest level. Generally, the move came as no surprise as Haese had announced his intentions some weeks prior. In addition to Haese’s parting of ways from the high school, the Board also approved the resignation of District Administrator Tony Klaubauf.
Klaubauf, a former teacher at Denmark who in 1992 to become the Mishicot School District’s superintendent, returned to Denmark in 2004 as the District Administrator with a focus on, “situational leadership.”
“Most of the time I’m a consensus builder and I try to get input from people who are involved with the decisions,” Klaubauf told The Denmark Press when he first assumed the position. “Most of the time it is school personnel but there are many times when I want the community involved.”
At the time, he also touted upgrades in curriculum and technology as well as revamping the middle school building without having to go to a referendum.
Thirteen years later, Klaubauf’s priorities remain in tact as steps forward in technology, new curriculum (Denmark High is one of few schools in the region offering an advanced computer science course called TEALS,) and updating facilities he says are currently, “a generation behind,” other competing districts.
Unlike his tenure at Mishicot, Klaubauf did resort to referenda to meet operational costs and recently to build new facilities, including a new gymnasium and updated auditorium. These projects, consuming $14.9 million of public funds, were approved by 67% of District voters last fall.
“I knew we were a generation behind with our facilities and we needed to do something if we wanted to compete with other schools our size,” Klaubauf told The Denmark News on Tuesday. “I’m excited the taxpayers supported the referendum and I want to see it through.”
His resignation effective June 30, 2018, Klaubauf will remain the project administrator until construction is complete, likely by August or September of 2018, before fully committing to retirement.
“I really feel it’s the right time. I’ve done what I can do for the District,” Klaubauf, who is nearing 60-years-old, said. “Our enrollment is slightly increasing, we don’t have any debt other than the referendum, we’ll have brand new facilities [including renovated bathrooms, roofs, heating systems, and space for the newly formed Denmark Alternative Needs Education program.] It’s a good time for someone new to come in.”
The Board will immediately begin working with consultation groups to help field candidates and, according to a press release, will communicate its progress sometime this coming January.
“[Klaubauf’s] dedication, hands-on approach, and leadership to our students, staff, and community has helped sustain, grow, and advance our school District with his constant efforts to improve the education system for all of our students,” the press release from Board President Dan Ullman reads. “We ask that the community be patient with the process of hiring a new District Administrator, as we believe we are in an excellent position to obtain an outstanding candidate to lead the District into the future.”
Klaubauf said that in retirement, he looks forward to hunting trips uninterrupted by urgent emails, visiting his oldest son, a current DHS senior, in college, and to take on more community volunteering activities.
“I think maybe it’s time to take a break from school,” he says with a laugh, noting that, including kindergarten, he has been in education for 55 years. “I only have so many years left where I’ll be able to climb a tree, and it’s time to do some of the activities I enjoy while I’m still physically able.”
Van Elzen Steps Down, Too
Denmark’s Board of Education took a second wave of change toward the end of it’s monthly meeting when Nancy Van Elzen announced she had filed non-candidacy papers for the upcoming spring elections. Van Elzen first took her Board seat in May 2010 and has played actor and witness in several changes.
“We’ve accomplished a lot of things [since 2010],” Van Elzen told The Denmark News. “Our operational referendums continue to pass, we have stable tax rates, we’ve seen improvement in students’ scores…We have seen a lot of growth and a lot of positive change.”
Van Elzen, a frequent prodder for specifics on business before the school board, says that the next newly elected representative should not, “be afraid to ask the questions about the issue at hand. My philosophy has always been, ‘It is their dollars I have a responsibility for,’ and I tried to make the best decisions with that in mind.”
Looking to become more involved with her church and granddaughter, Van Elzen says she will not be leaving the community and will continue to stay active.
Van Elzen’s departure means the Board of Education will have at least one new member following next spring’s election, as Katie Rabenhorst indicated she intended to run for re-election in the April 3 vote. Prospective candidates who live in the District have until Jan. 2, 2018, to be included on the ballot.