De Soto hires former Olathe schools leader as interim superintendent

Former Olathe school superintendent Ron Wimmer is coming out of retirement to lead the De Soto school district while the school board searches for a new superintendent.

The board hired Wimmer as interim superintendent in a special meeting Thursday at the school district administration building.

“It was something that I had not sought, but I’m glad that I can help them through this period of time,” he said.

Former De Soto superintendent Sharon Zoellner resigned from the district April 24, after she accepted an offer to become the superintendent in the Louisburg school district.

Wimmer, who worked 40 years with the Olathe school district, including 15 as superintendent, retired in 2005. He said De Soto board members contacted him two weeks ago about the position. After that meeting, he met Monday with the board president and vice president and signed a contract on Wednesday.

“I have trouble saying no,” he said.

He took the offer because he knew the board likely would not be able to find a qualified superintendent before the new school year started in August.

“Any qualified candidate would have contractual obligations and be unable to break that contract,” he said.

Wimmer will work on a per diem basis throught the end of the current school year and into the summer, which could calculate to about $20,000, he said. He will then receive $166,000 for the 2009-10 school year.

“ We are honored to have Ron Wimmer step in and provide accomplished and strategic leadership for our school system,” said Don Clark, vice president of the board, in a written statement released Thursday night. “He brings significant experience to our community at a time when it is needed most. He is more than capable of moving us forward to do what is best for students and teachers and for all who support public education.”

Wimmer will help with the candidate search along with a firm the board will hire to find qualified candidates. The board plans to fill the position by July 2010.

Wimmer said he has no plans to stay longer than the 2009-10 school year and doesn’t plan to apply for the full-time position.