New London superintendent accepts new job
Dennis Krueger headed to West De Pere
By Scott Bellile
Superintendent Dennis Krueger will leave the School District of New London for West De Pere this summer.
Krueger on Tuesday, April 9, accepted a superintendent position in the School District of West De Pere effective July 1. There, he will replace John Zegers, who will retire after a 44-year career in education.
After two years of leading New London, Krueger took the new job for personal and professional reasons, he said.
“Personally, I could be in the area much closer to home, and it’s the geographic area where my adult children live, work and play, so it was appealing in that regard,” Krueger said. “From a professional standpoint, it’s a district that’s … one and a half times the size of New London, and it also presents a lot of opportunities for growth and a lot of intriguing projects in the near term and long term.
“They perform well academically they have great community support not unlike New London, and not unlike New London, they have a fantastic staff and administration there,” Krueger added.
Krueger offered nothing but praise for the district he will leave behind.
“New London was a really great fit,” he said. “The community is very supportive. It’s got a lot of excellent things going on both in the schools and in the community, and it’s a nice size as well. The people are just fantastic. They make the community and the district what it is.
“The New London school district is on a path of leading their learning, and I hope that that path continues. They offer a great variety of experiences for students, particularly as they move on through the secondary level, and just a solid foundation for curriculum and instruction.”
New London and West De Pere both rank in the top quarter of Wisconsin’s largest school districts. Last fall, New London’s enrollment was 2,284 students while West De Pere’s was 3,556, according to Department of Public Instruction data.
Krueger said he sees in the more populated city of De Pere an opportunity to do what he enjoyed doing in New London: building relationships outside school walls.
Within his first month on the job in New London, Krueger launched an initiative called Community Connections to strengthen relationships among local stakeholders. Representatives of the school district, city and town governments, businesses, churches and nonprofit organizations assembled for nighttime meetings where they discussed strategies to make New London a more attractive community to live, attend school and work.
Krueger considers this one of his proudest accomplishments in the district. Others include improving staff morale, passing a $13 million facilities referendum and enhancing monitoring practices for facets of the district’s strategic plan, such as academic and career planning, educator effectiveness and student achievement.
“I think Dennis has done a really good job in our district, especially in the areas of trying to connect us within the community and to think about how we promote our district to people who are looking for a place to go, whether they’re relocating or even open enrollment,” New London School Board President Terry Wegner said. “I think we have a lot to offer, and Dennis, I think, recognized that as well and really understood the need for districts to promote their value today in a world with open enrollment and vouchers.”
Last November when New London voters passed the referendum, De Pere area residents backed their own. They favored a $74.7 million plan to construct a new intermediate school and high school athletic complex as well as update existing schools.
The De Pere voters’ buy-in demonstrates a level of support for education similar to New London’s, Krueger said.
West De Pere will gain a forward-thinking superintendent who keeps his mind on the big picture, Wegner said.
“From my perspective, I’m happy for him,” Wegner said. “This is a great situation for him to continue his career, and it’s a good situation for his ability to spend more time with his family being closer to where he lives. And I think West De Pere is going to be a new challenge for him. Again, it’s a school system that’s about a thousand [students] larger than ours and I believe at this point is still growing.”
A superintendent like Krueger who is far into his career but not ready to quit must seize an attractive opportunity when it presents itself , Wegner said. Otherwise it could be a decade before the dream job opens up again.
The next step in New London is the school board will accept Krueger’s resignation and discuss the timeline for hiring a new superintendent at a special meeting Monday, April 15.
Krueger’s successor should be named by June, Wegner said.
“I think he’s left us in a solid position to move forward with a new leader at the helm,” Wegner said.
The successor to former Superintendent Kathy Gwidt, Krueger began working for the School District of New London in July 2017, after serving as assistant superintendent for the Howard-Suamico School District for 11 years. He also worked in Shiocton, Neenah, Marinette and Milwaukee during his career.
His interests outside of education include spending time with his children and wife, bicycling, kayaking, waterskiing and snorkeling through shipwreck sites along the Great Lakes.