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Editorial: Leedom's retirement will be loss for district

Superintendent Kathy Leedom's retirement notice has given the Willmar School Board a major challenge -- finding a suitable superintendent replacement.

The Willmar School Board Monday formally accepted Leedom's retirement resignation, effective July 31, 2008.

Leedom's replacement will be stepping into a role of important leadership for the school district and the community. Leedom's performance in this role has been outstanding during her tenure.

We are happy for her personally for her retirement, but we are sad for the school district and the Willmar Schools community. She will be hard to replace.

Leedom stated Monday that it was "an honor and a privilege to have served the Willmar Public Schools." Willmar has been fortunate to have Leedom for 13 years of her 33-year career.

She always represented Willmar Public Schools and its community with professionalism and quality, always focusing on children of the district.

The school district has undergone significant changes during Leedom's seven-year superintendent tenure. The school district fell into statutory operating debt after an audit found an accounting revenue error from the 1998-99 school year.

She led the school district through developing a plan to rebuild a general fund balance and moved the district out of the debt situation.

The district is currently completing a plan to address the district's building needs and maintenance challenges.

The district's reputation, both financially and scholastically, around the state has never been higher. Leedom played a major role in leading the school team that rebuilt this reputation.

We commend Leedom for her long-range notice to the School Board, which puts the interest of the district first. This notice will provide time to develop a plan and timeline for hiring a new superintendent.

Such professionalism has been a consistent practice during Leedom's tenure.