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NO. 5 LARGE | WAUNAKEE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT Embracing community values leads to strong, effective schools

NO. 5 LARGE | WAUNAKEE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT Embracing community values leads to strong, effective schools

From the Meet the Madison area's Top Workplaces in 2020 series
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Waunakee Community School District display

During the final week of seventh grade, students celebrate the first annual Geography Olympics in Waunakee. The growing school district prides itself on staff development and involvement, said District Administrator Randy Guttenberg.

The Waunakee Community School District draws its identity and its workplace culture from the community it serves.

“We’re fortunate. We have a community that supports kids, supports the schools and has great pride in the school district and what we can do to support families,” said Randy Guttenberg, the district administrator.

“We have a phenomenal staff that does incredible work,” Guttenberg added. “They are collaborative and the tops in the field. I think that’s part of what puts all these pieces together. It makes what I do relatively easy because I have great support from our staff and the community.”

In Guttenberg’s more than 12 years leading the district, it has grown by 1,000 students – to 4,500 students being served by 566 employees at six schools.

The district’s size makes workplace communication and involvement priorities.

“We try to have as much involvement from our staff in our decision-making – examples are things like development of our calendars, curriculum, course options and clubs that they feel are important to add,” he said. “Our school board has been a proponent of wanting to hear staff perspectives.”

In addition to a benefits package that includes a state retirement plan, the district has a district-provided, employee-only wellness clinic. There, employees can get health information, flu shots and basic medical care offered by a nurse practitioner.

“There’s not a co-pay. It helps us control our health insurance costs, or experience ratings. And, it helps them to lower overall benefit costs,” Guttenberg said. “It’s a great resource for all of us who are employees here.”

A former elementary school teacher, Guttenberg stresses the need for staff in Waunakee schools to be approachable and humble.

“We’re one part of a team and what I try to portray to our staff is that we all have important roles, no matter what position you hold in the district and all of those impact kids,” he said. “If we do our job with that in mind, it provides a great opportunity for our students.”


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