After eight years with with the district, Faribault Superintendent of Schools Todd Sesker is retiring.
His last day with the district is June 30.
Sesker, who made the announcement Friday during a meeting with district staff, was superintendent of Cannon Falls Schools for 10 years before coming to Faribault in July 2011. He was selected in spring 2011 by the Faribault School Board from a pool of three finalists following a year-long search. Before his time in Cannon Falls, Sesker served as Goodhue Schools’ superintendent.
School Board Chair John Currie on Friday said Sesker told board members of his decision Thursday.
“He has reached the age where he qualifies for full retirement, so that really gives him some options,” said Currie. “I wasn’t surprised necessarily.”
Of Sesker, Currie said, “I would say he’s done a fine job in a difficult situation with the reduction of student enrollment. ... He’s very personable and accessible and really has seen and continues to see a bright future for the district.”
Throughout the past few years, Currie noted Sesker worked closely with the business communities and the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce to find more opportunities for students.
Currie commended the superintendent for remaining steadfast during challenges within the district and working to find effective solutions to problems with facilities and student behaviors, particularly at Faribault Middle School. Additional administrators added at the middle and high school and a focus on standards for behavior have shown significant reductions in suspensions.
Last year, the district got $1 million in state grants to enhance safety and security at Lincoln and Jefferson Elementary and Faribault High schools.
He said Sesker has helped implement more programs than he can name, one of the most notable of them being the Ninth Grade Academy at Faribault High School, which serves students in smaller classroom settings with one-on-one teacher to student structure. The Academy has shown success. In a recent report to the school board, Assistant FHS Principal Shawn Peck said that when comparing the grades of ninth-graders to the prior year’s marks, the number of “F’s” dropped from over 60 to two.
But things haven’t always been rosy during Sesker’s tenure.
A $87 million school construction bond in 2017 failed miserably with 68 percent of voters turning back the district’s plan, which included a $23 million event center.
Enrollment continues to drop, from 3,697 students in 2014-15 to 3,512 students in 2017-18. The district lost 146 students from 2016-17 to 2017-18 alone. That’s meant the loss of state aid and severe budget cuts the last two years.
The School Board last month talked about putting an operating levy on the November ballot that would pay to increase the number of class periods per day at FHS to seven. It’s believed that a number of students are leaving the district because their schedules are full with required classes, leaving no place for electives.
Sesker himself said the decision to retire at this time isn’t one he’s contemplated for long, recently deciding the timing was right.
“We have a great school board, a great community, great staff, but most of all, great kids,” said Sesker in a press release. “I would like to say thank you to the Faribault community, the School Board and everyone that I have had the pleasure to work with these past eight years. It is great to be a Falcon.”
The board holds its regular meeting Monday, where the board plans to evaluate him as scheduled. Currie said the board will then accept Sesker’s resignation at the June 24 School Board business meeting and then begin discussions on how to fill the position.
Currie said some of the options include conducting a search, hiring a search firm to conduct a search or promoting someone already within the district. They may also hire an interim superintendent or a retired superintendent from the district.