Jeff Pesta

Jeff Pesta receives an Administrator of Excellence Award from the Minnesota Association of School Administrators President Deb Henton in March, 2019. (Photo courtesy of K-W Schools)

Jeff Pesta is leaving his job as Kenyon-Wanamingo Public Schools superintendent.

Pesta, who has been with the district for four years, has been named interim superintendent for Hastings Public Schools.

According to the Hastings Schools website, its board approved the hire Monday, Nov. 25. He will officially take over on Jan. 2, 2020 and serve for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Throughout the next couple of weeks, Pesta is expected to work closely with Hastings Public Schools Superintendent Tim Collins, who announced his retirement in August. He will continue to serve the K-W Schools as the superintendent and community education director of record during the transition to a replacement.

Though Pesta’s resignation hasn’t been formally accepted by the K-W School Board, he has told board members of his intent to resign. The Board has scheduled a special meeting set to take place Wednesday, Dec. 4, to begin determining the superintendent recruitment process.

“I came to assist Kenyon-Wanamingo in January 2015 on a six-month interim contract and ended up staying for five years,” said Pesta. “It has been a privilege to serve this community. I’m very proud of all that our team has accomplished during that term. It truly is a new day for the Knights!”

Before taking the K-W job, Pesta served 18 years as a principal, most recently at Northfield Middle School. Prior to beginning his career as a science teacher, Pesta served in the U.S. Army and intermittently conducted field research on North Pacific Fisheries for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1990-2011.

Recently, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators named Pesta a 2019 Administrator of Excellence.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and business administration from Mankato State University, a master’s in Science Education from the University of Minnesota, received his administration certificate from Minnesota State University, Mankato and his doctorate from the University of St. Thomas.

While at K-W, Pesta has overseen a new district website/branding and the implementation of distance learning days to replace all weather cancellations. He introduced interest based bargaining and successfully negotiated all district master agreements. Most recently, he led the district campaign to revoke and replace a local operating, levy and led a partnership with Owatonna Public Schools in an Achievement and Integration Plan.

“Under his leadership, we have continuously improved arts, academics, activities and school culture…,” K-W School Board Chair Rod Woock said in May after the board voted to approve Pesta’s new three-year contract. “As we move forward, we are pleased to have Dr. Pesta’s leadership, because we still have a lot of work to do.”

His contract with Hastings Schools is for 130 days. He’ll make $667 per day, that’s about $87,000 for the duration of the contract. Pesta’s annual salary at K-W is $173,000. The Hastings district has nearly 4,000 students in three elementary schools, a middle and high school and an area learning center.

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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