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RACINE — After several weeks of closed-session talks, the Racine Unified School Board voted on Monday to approve a request from Superintendent Lolli Haws to extend her contract until June 2018.

There was no discussion on the extension. The vote was 6-3, with Julie McKenna, Don Nielsen and Michelle Duchow voting against.

On Friday, Haws made a public statement, asking the School Board to keep her on as superintendent until after the 2017-18 school year in hopes for a smooth transition to the next superintendent.

“I appreciate the board’s support the last three and a half years and I look forward to the work we have ahead in the next 18 months,” Haws said. “I’ve been working with the board over these last few weeks to decide what’s best for the district, for the board and for myself.”

Although she won’t be directly involved in the selection of the next superintendent, Haws said she’s happy to help the School Board however she can.

“I’ll support and be happy to work with whoever the board selects,” Haws said. “To make sure it’s a smooth and successful transition.”

Haws said the district is focused on improving the state report card results.

“I’m sure we can move that to a more acceptable level and set things in place that will make us more successful,” Haws said.

After the meeting, School Board President Michael Frontier said he’s grateful for the work Haws has done here.

“Dr. Haws is hardworking, determined and I’m looking for a strong transition effort with a plan that makes sure we build on many of our strengths,” Frontier said. “I think it’s very important to the board that succession planning is in place.”

Frontier said the process to begin searching for a new superintendent will begin “in the very near future.”

Nielsen explained his “no” vote.

“I’ve had some differences with some of the things,” Nielsen said. “The board has one voice and the board exercised its voice tonight, and I’m part of the board.”

Nielsen declined to elaborate.

Mixed results

Haws has been Unified’s superintendent since July 1, 2013, when she signed a two-year contract for $200,000 per year. That contract was renewed in 2015.

During Haws’ tenure, Unified has shown mixed results. This year, the state Department of Public Instruction labeled the district as “failing to meet expectations.”

The district opened two schools — Knapp Elementary, 2701 17th St., and Olympia Brown, 2115 5 1/2 Mile Road, Caledonia, and renovated a third — Gifford Elementary School, 8332 Northwestern Ave., Caledonia.

Also this year, the district established the Academies of Racine, a program aims to get students interested in careers after high school, and moved to block scheduling in its high schools.

The last superintendent to serve the district for at least five years was Thomas Hicks, who started in 2001 and retired in 2008. There were four superintendents between Hicks and Haws — Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Jackson V. Parker III, James J. Shaw and Ann Laing.

Looking forward, Haws said after this contract expires she is not sure what she will do next.

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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