March 22, 2013

Klitzman retiring as school superintendent

Lackluster board support triggered decision

by Sarah Einselen

WINAMAC — After 26 years at Eastern Pulaski schools, superintendent Robert Klitzman is retiring.

“I told the folks I’m working till June 30, and that’s what I’ll do,” Klitzman said. He submitted his retirement to the school board Tuesday night, where board members voted 4-3 in favor.

Klitzman, who moved to Winamac after nine years at Smith-Greene Community Schools outside Fort Wayne, said his longevity at Eastern Pulaski allowed him to see several projects through, including implementing a heavy reading focus at the elementary level and transitioning to up-to-date technology.

“I think that’s one of the advantages of being somewhere for some length of time,” Klitzman said. “You can see things develop over time.”

He chose to retire this year after two consecutive years of narrow 4-3 votes in favor of continuing his contract, he said.

“For the last couple years, I have not received the confidence that I feel that I need, I’ve not had that from my school board,” Klitzman said. So instead of submitting a renewal again this year, he proposed retiring and asked the board to vote it down if they wanted him to remain in the position. It passed.

Klitzman emphasized that the board hadn’t overstepped its authority and he was grateful for the full support of a minority of the board members.

Mike Tetzloff, president of the school board, and secretary Larry Beach praised Klitzman’s commitment to putting children first.

“He’s always maintained and lived the motto that kids are our future,” said Tetzloff. “I really appreciate the efforts that he’s given to our school corporation.”

Beach declined to comment on the concerns some board members had, saying they were discussed in executive sessions. He said, however, that it was “a bad time to lose him.”

“I don’t like it at all, but things happen and we will go on and we will continue to educate our students,” Beach said.

The board is expected to begin the process of searching for a new superintendent at its meeting next month.

Klitzman’s proudest accomplishment, he said, was “the broad, basic, fundamental education” that the Winamac schools provide. It’s intended to prepare students for whatever they choose to pursue after high school, whether it be college, a career or vocational training.

To that end, the schools piloted what later became a statewide mandate to spend 90 minutes per elementary school day on reading. Reading First began about a decade ago, Klitzman said, and forms the basis for elementary classrooms’ other programs, since they “hinge on students being able to read.”

The school corporation has also maintained continuity in its approach to technology, planning upgrades compatible with what was already in use at the schools and bringing them in incrementally.

Klitzman said he valued the smooth cooperation among staff, teachers and administrators. He’ll miss the working relationships he’s built with Winamac staff and representatives at other schools.

“I have some great staff,” said Klitzman. “We don’t have unrest here… We get along. We may disagree, we may not like it, but we move on.”

So far, Klitzman has no definite plans for his retirement, saying he’s in good health so “whatever will come, will come.” In any case, he added, he expects to keep abreast of what’s going on in the education world, since it’s where he’s spent his entire 42-year career.

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at or 574-732-5151.

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