The Year In Education 2023

The education stories that kept us busy this year included the mysterious resignation of the Southern Door School District’s former superintendent, Chris Peterson. School board members spent hours in closed session from March through June, even while the district’s $14.9 million, voter-approved capital-improvement project moved forward, with some large changes. In the northern half of the county, Gibraltar School District voters approved an historic, $29.8 million capital-project referendum, while Sevastopol School District kicked off a year-and-a-half-long centennial celebration.

Mysterious Resignation Marks Southern Door School District

Tony Klaubauf, interim Southern Door superintendent. Submitted.

The Peninsula Pulse launched an extensive open-records investigation into the leave and eventual resignation of former Southern Door superintendent Chris Peterson. Despite the effort, the search yielded no specifics as to why his tenure ended so abruptly. The district first put Peterson on leave March 16, officially severed its relationship with Peterson effective June 30, and brought interim superintendent Tony Klaubauf on board Aug. 7.

The board had renewed Peterson’s contract for another three years in January 2023. Fewer than three months later, the board would ask for his resignation.

Gibraltar District Voters Support $29.8 Million Building Project

Gibraltar Area School district residents took tours and saw several reasons to replace the center sections of the school, such as dilapidated plumbing (above). File photo by Myles Dannhausen, Jr.

By a 2,755 to 837 total, Gibraltar Area School District voters approved of demolishing the cramped middle school gymnasium and center portions of the school campus and constructing new facilities on one level for $29.8 million. Within a month, the district issued bonds – as interest rates were expected to rise all summer – and then began collecting interest while still entering the planning and design stages.

Southern Door capital projects get rolling

A centerpiece of Southern Door schools’ $14.9 million, voter-approved capital-improvement project is a new structure, part fitness and weight room and part indoor athletic training facility. File photo by Craig Sterrett.

At Southern Door, contractors completed the district-office-relocation, classroom-renovation and parking-lot-expansion portion of a $14.9 million, voter-approved project in the summer. By autumn, they moved on to the larger part of the project – a 40-yard-long indoor athletic training building and fitness center with artificial turf. Costs were higher than expected, causing the district to eliminate, for now, a $1 million bus-maintenance garage from the capital plan.

Sevastopol Celebrates 100 Years

Sevastopol School District launched a year-and-a-half-long centennial celebration. 

Before the school was built in 1923 and opened in 1924, most high-school-age students dropped out and worked for family farms or businesses. Only a few found places to stay and attended Sturgeon Bay schools. 

A group of war moms who gathered to knit sweaters for their sons during World War I came up with the idea to build the school so that their boys could obtain an education beyond eighth grade. 

Ridges Education Program Accepted as 4-K Option

Students walk on one of the boardwalks at The Ridges Sanctuary. File photo by Craig Sterrett.

When the Gibraltar Area School District’s daily 4-year-old kindergarten classes at Gibraltar and Northern Door Children’s Center began in 2022-23, the Dragonfly program at The Ridges Sanctuary was left out. The Ridges reimagined its programming, and the result was Ridges Forest School, three days per week. By this winter, The Ridges again rethought its nature-based curriculum and offered to become a part of the Gibraltar public school 4K offerings – which the school district accepted.

Southern Door Students Help Create Sculptures

Southern Door County students helped conceptualize two large eagle-and-education-themed sculptures and designed many of the details for the pieces, Learn to Soar and Learn to Soar II. File photo by Rachel Lukas. 

Funds raised throughout 14 Halloween seasons at the “haunted mansion” at the former Quietwoods South Campground helped pay for materials and the expertise of artist-in-residence Rob Soukup, who led students and volunteers in two major projects. He and instructor Barb Schriner-Schmitt helped all students learn about sculptures and create their own – highlighted by a high school exhibit outside the school and a middle school creation inside the auditorium entrance.

Gibraltar Board OKs Nondiscrimination Policies

The Gibraltar Area School Board became the first in Door County to approve a policy to give students an opportunity (after meeting several requirements) to use private restrooms or to start using restrooms or locker rooms that do not match their gender at birth.

Changes at St. John Bosco

Michael Robey, St. John Bosco principal. Submitted.

After a resignation in early summer, St. John Bosco Catholic School in Sturgeon Bay hired Michael Robey as its new principal. He holds several post-secondary degrees, including a doctorate in educational administration, and also has served as a lector, usher, Eucharistic minister, confirmation mentor and religious education teacher.

Sevastopol Superintendent Named Administrator of the Year

Kyle Luedtke, Sevastopol superintendent. Submitted.

In his 31st year working in public education and his 13th year as a superintendent, Kyle Luedtke, Sevastopol School District superintendent, was named the Rural School Administrator of the Year by the 140-district Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance.