Dittberner ‘happy and relieved’

Tim Dittberner said his selection as the new superintendent of the New Prague Area Schools was a big relief following a very stressful week.

Over the course of eight days Dittberner not only had to deal with what amounted to four interviews for the job, which will become his officially on July 1, but as principal of New Prague Middle School he also had to deal with the events of March 20 and 21. On the 20th, the school was put in a lockdown and classes eventually cancelled after a student made a 911 call reporting a shooting - a call that thankfully proved to be a hoax. The next day the building was evacuated after a series of emails were received stating that a bomb was set to go off inside the building - again, a hoax.

Dittberner said he is very happy to be taking over as superintendent of the district where he has worked for the past 10 years.

“I’ve spent 10 years as a teacher, 10 years as an athletic/ activities director and 10 years as a principal. Hopefuly I can stay on as superintendent for 10 years or more,” he said.

He said he had been giving some thought in recent years about going for his doctorate and possibly going into teaching in college.

“What changed my mind was when Larry [Kauzlarich] came here as superintendent (in 2011). I saw the way he worked and how he operated. I’ve seen a lot in 10 years here,” he said. “I know what to do and what not to do. When he announced in January that he was leaving, it became my goal to become superintenent here.”

He understands that his new job will be a big change. While he’s been used to working directly with teachers and students, something he won’t be able to do as much of in his new duties.

However, his approach will be the same as it has been in his other jobs.

“I don’t care what position you hold in education, your biggest job is to build trust within the organization.”

He told board members in the interview that he felt his skills match with the board was looking for in a superintendent, and he feels his familiarity with the district will allow him to hit the ground running.

“I’m already working with Larry on a few of the things that need to be done.” One of his first tasks will be to fill two spots on the district's administrative team. In addition to a new middle school principal, the district will be looking for a new Community Services Director. Amy Eich informed the district this week that she would be leaving at the end of the current year.

As for goals with the new job, Dittberner said he hasn’t thought about that yet.

“We have to get a number of things done this summer. We have to finish what we’re already doing in terms of school safety and security, facilities and technology. All three of those were important issues for the public at the open forums.

“I’m walking into a good situation. The district has a good fund balance, a growing enrollment, a great teaching staff and support staff.

“This is my dream job. This is where I want to end my career. I could go other places and make a lot more money, but you can’t trade what this area has in terms of people and businesses.”