Re-1 superintendent to retire in spring
Post Independent Staff
Fred Wall will be retiring at the end of the coming school year after nine eventful years as superintendent of the Roaring Fork Re-1 School District.
Wall has been announcing his plans to teachers this week as they prepare for the start of school.
The news comes as no surprise to the Re-1 school board. Wall said he had been indicating to board members since about the middle of last year that he was contemplating retirement.
“I think all the board and I really admire Fred despite the fact he’s gotten some bad press over the years,” board member Pete Delany said.
“He’s a terrific superintendent and we’re going to miss him dearly. He’s a great guy.”
Wall has ushered the district through a time of great change. During his tenure the district has passed two mill levy overrides, and an $86 million bond issue for districtwide construction projects.
“Fred was maybe one of the first folks several years ago to remind us that we needed to do some improvements and pass a bond issue,” Delany said.
“He definitely has that legacy.”
The district currently is working on carrying out those projects. In Glenwood Springs, that has led to a recall effort against two school board members because the district plans to expand the high school onto property now occupied by several businesses.
Wall also has presided over Re-1 at a time when, like other districts, it has had to focus on improving student testing scores. That challenge has been made more difficult in part by an increasing Latino population in schools. The district has particularly struggled to improve test scores at Carbondale Elementary School.
Wall said the district has been working steadily on student achievement. And with the district’s construction plans falling into place, he believes he will be leaving at a good time.
“I think the district is in a great place financially and instructionally,” he said.
A key accomplishment for Wall and the district came early on in his time with Re-1, when he introduced a consensus-based approach to bargaining with the teachers association, bringing an end to what once was an adversarial process.
Glenwood Springs High School teacher Mike Wilde, president of the Roaring Fork Community Education Association, said Wall came to the district at a difficult time, when it had a budget deficit and teacher salaries were frozen.
“It was really his direction that brought us out of that,” he said.
He said Wall’s bargaining initiative “made that process work so much better.”
Getting the mill levy overrides passed also was essential to improving salaries and the district’s ability to attract and retain teachers, Wilde said.
He said voters and others also deserve credit for passage of tax issues. But it has been Wall’s way to be humble about what he has accomplished and give credit to others, in what is a thankless job, Wilde said.
“It’s not an easy position to be in because you have to walk that tenuous position between the public and the schools, and perceptions. … I don’t envy superintendents at all,” Wilde said.
Delany said Wall seemed to get blamed for all the district’s problems.
“He’s made some tough decisions that have caused him some heat, but has definitely dealt with the heat in a professional manner,” Delany said.
Some of the recent heat has centered on the Glenwood high school plans, which would oust True Value Hardware, among other businesses. Store manager Tom Maher declined to comment about Wall or his departure, but said that by the time Wall leaves it probably would be too late to affect the store’s pending ouster, which is expected to occur earlier.
“The damage is done now,” Maher said.
Wall has been in education for 34 years. He formerly was a school counselor and grade school teacher in Wisconsin. He worked in the Woodland Park school district in Colorado for 13 years, including the last six as superintendent, before coming to Glenwood Springs.
He said he plans to remain in Glenwood Springs with his wife. However, they have a new grandson in Minnesota, and a son and his wife living in Alaska. Wall said he is retiring in part to be able to travel more to see family.
Delany said the board hasn’t discussed the superintendent search process yet.
“We have plenty of time to figure out where to go,” he said.
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