TOWN OF GENEVA — Woods Elementary School is bidding farewell to an administrator who oversaw a hard-fought campaign for an expansion that transformed the school.
Jeff Klaisner, the school’s principal/administrator for the past four years, has announced that he is retiring at the end of this school year.
Klaisner’s career in education also included serving previously as a Lake Geneva middle school principal for about 10 years.
Klaisner, 60, said he decided about a month ago to make this his final year in the Woods School District.
“I just decided it was time for me to look for other adventures,” he said.
His last day on the job is June 30.
School board members have already begun accepting applications for a new principal/administrator.
Board member Neil DeVries said Klaisner did a good job of shepherding along the school expansion effort, after voters had twice rejected referendums to fund the project.
“He helped us through some rough waters,” DeVries said. “And he helped us get to a calm spot.”
After two previous failures, the school district in 2016 won voter approval to borrow $4.6 million for expansion and upgrades to the school property at N2575 Snake Road in the town of Geneva.
Klaisner had joined the district at the start of the 2015-16 school year.
Woods teacher Jeanine Kopecky remembers watching Klaisner during the referendum campaign as he tirelessly answered voter questions and held public events to promote the school expansion.
“He really reached out to the community,” Kopecky said.
With the $4.6 million, Woods school was able to build a new gymnasium, new science laboratory and new classrooms, while also transforming the old gymnasium into a cafeteria.
In addition, many classrooms got new equipment, including a kiln in the art room and stoves in the consumer science room. Renovations also included a redesigned front entrance, new administrative offices, and a more spacious library.
Two years worth of construction work was completed last summer, nearly doubling the building’s size.
Klaisner said he was proud of overseeing the expansion effort, and he feels like it is a fitting end to his tenure at Woods.
“The school is in a good place now,” he said.
Klaisner began his teaching career about 40 years ago and landed in 1996 in Lake Geneva, where he served as principal of Denison Middle School and then Lake Geneva Middle School.
After six years as a principal in Waukesha County, he took over as principal/administrator at Woods Elementary.
Woods Elementary serves about 200 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Kopecky, who also worked with him previously in Lake Geneva, described Klaisner as a principled educator who made school a fun place, but who also worked hard and set high standards for students.
“He is very professional,” she said. “He never takes shortcuts.”
Klaisner’s retirement follows the resignation of district business manager Janet Elrod at the beginning of the current school year. The district hired an interim business manager, and officials now are planning to search for both a principal/administrator and a business manager.
DeVries said he was sorry to see Klaisner go, but installing a new management team also will bring in near ideas.
“It’s not without its challenges, obviously,” DeVries said. “But I think we’re excited.”