‘This is a special place’: Luxemburg-Casco School District superintendent Schlender to retire
LUXEMBURG – After more than 37 years working in education, including the past eight as Luxemburg-Casco School District superintendent, Glenn Schlender will retire at the end of the current school year, the district announced in a press release Monday.
The district saw improvement in academics and major changes in its facilities during Schlender's tenure, especially including new programs and new or renovated buildings that came about through passage in 2018 of two referendums authorizing a total of $27.8 million in spending on them.
“This is a special place,” Schlender said in the release. "I’ve never worked in a place where there was such widespread dedication to kids and learning — it’s so pervasive here. There is a strong cohesiveness with the community. I was blessed to land here.
“I hope my legacy at L-C is one where, as a leader, I have made a significant change so that students had a better experience. Ultimately, I have tried to create a culture deep and strong enough which remains after I walk out the door."
Schlender graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 1984, then worked as a science teacher in the Green Bay School District until 1998, when he was named assistant principal at Green Bay Preble High School.
He remained in that post at Preble until 2002, when he became principal at Pulaski High School. After seven years at Pulaski, he was named superintendent of the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District in 2009, where he remained until starting at L-C on July 1, 2014.
Of the changes that occurred at L-C under Schlender’s leadership, the most visible likely are the new and improved buildings that happened after the referendums passed and the innovative programs some of them house.
Within a year after Schlender came on board, he led the district into formulating a long-range facilities plan in the spring of 2015, including engagement with the community to obtain their thoughts about L-C’s strategic direction.
The subsequent passage of the referendums three years later saw the district build a new middle school, relocated to Luxemburg from Casco to provide a single campus housing all four schools, and a new gymnasium and wrestling room. The former wrestling room also was remodeled into a modern fitness center that's open to the public.
It also repurposed the former middle school building into what's called Casco Career Academy, which houses Ahnapee Diesel Center (opened last fall as the first and only credit-bearing, diesel-specific high school in Wisconsin) and L.E.A.P. alternative school, and the projects came in far enough under budget to allow construction of a new Agriscience Center for agribusiness classes that opened last spring.
“Passing the referendum was a huge turning point,” Schlender said. “The response we received from the community through the engagement process was tremendous. People subsequently learned that we had heard them through the visible results of the referendum projects."
Other resulting positive outcomes were improved career and technical education options for students, working in conjunction with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and enhanced partnerships with area businesses.
With Schlender at the helm, L-C also instituted an expansion of career-readiness programs such as the Ahnapee Regional Youth Apprenticeship Program, which has had record growth over its five years, and enhanced and brought in modern equipment for its technical education courses.
“Today, I look at the district in terms of its facilities and programming and think to myself, ‘I helped make that a reality,’" Schlender said. "Not just for the district, it had a big impact on me personally. The community has been very appreciative of what we were able to do. It’s heartwarming.”
Schlender also helped develop partnerships for the district with Bellin Health, the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (for the school's diesel technician program) and other local businesses.
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Also visible during Schlender's tenure has been the success of L-C's interscholastic athletics programs, which won four state championships, three runner-up state finishes and 22 conference titles in those eight years.
Academically, the district was ranked second out of 38 school districts in the CESA 7 districts of Northeast Wisconsin in the most recent District Report Cards from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, up from its ranking of 25th when Schlender arrived. Current L-C student achievement is more than 20 points higher than the state average, and L-C Intermediate School was 50th among 1,219 of the state's elementary schools in the most recent DPI report cards.
In a related note, after losing students to open enrollment in seven of the eight school years between 2008-09 and 2015-16, the district has had more students come to L-C through open enrollment than it lost in each of the five years since, with more than 100 open-enrolling in each of the past two years. For the current school year, nearly 10% were attending through open enrollment, according to the DPI.
The district also was able to largely maintain in-person learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic once the option for in-person learning became available.
“I take pride in that we were able to largely stay open during the pandemic," Schlender said. "The teachers carried much of that burden, and I am appreciative of their dedication to student learning. I have been blessed to work with an administrative team who are gifted leaders, with a passion for students, and who are willing to get out of their comfort zones to make learning better."
Schlender, who will turn 60 years old this month, plans to remain in Luxemburg with his wife, Margaret. The district is accepting applications for Schlender’s position and hopes to name a replacement this spring.
“Glenn came to the district with a vision, and he successfully implemented it,” school board president Mike Driedric said. “He expanded the learning opportunities for our students; by partnering with NWTC and area businesses we now offer students new career pathways. Under Glenn’s leadership, Luxemburg-Casco has become a destination district for learning in Northeast Wisconsin.”
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: 'This is a special place': Luxemburg-Casco School District superintendent Schlender to retire