Fox C-6 School District Superintendent Jim Wipke is resigning at the end of this school year to take a job as the superintendent at the Ladue School District.
Wipke, 47, of Wildwood has been the Fox superintendent since 2015. He announced his impending departure Wednesday (Nov. 7), the same day the Ladue Board of Education held a public meeting to introduce him as that district’s new superintendent.
Wipke’s last day with the Fox district is scheduled for June 30.
He will earn a $214,000 annual salary next school year at Ladue, said Susan Downing, that district’s communication director.
Wipke is being paid $192,937 this school year as Fox’s superintendent, said Sam Rayburn, the Fox district’s communications coordinator.
The Fox Board of Education held an emergency, closed meeting Nov. 1 and voted to release Wipke from his contract so he could take the job at Ladue. The Fox school board voted unanimously to release him from the contract, with six board members present and the seventh board member, Vickie Hanson, taking part in the meeting via Facetime, board secretary Sandy Menchella reported.
Wipke would have had two more years on his contract with Fox after the end of this school year.
He has a three-year contract with Ladue.
The Ladue school board voted unanimously Oct. 29 to offer the job to Wipke, Downing said.
The Ladue School District currently enrolls 4,235 students and has eight schools, including an early childhood center, four elementary schools, a fifth-grade center, a middle school and a high school, Downing said.
Fox enrolls more than 11,000 students and has 18 schools, including an early childhood center, 11 elementary schools, four middle schools and two high schools.
Wipke said he applied for the superintendent job at Ladue after discussing it with his wife of 25 years, Jennifer, and their family.
“When you’re ready to apply to another district, just like when I was ready to apply to the Fox district, you sit down with your family to decide what is the best move forward, what is in the best interest of your family,” he said.
Before Wipke came to Fox, he was the executive director of secondary education for the Rockwood School District.
Wipke said he thought the time was right to make the change since the offer from Ladue came early enough to give the Fox school board time to find a new superintendent.
“This allows them time to find a suitable replacement,” he said.
Wipke said he hopes his resignation from Fox doesn’t negatively affect the $70 million bond issue the district plans to put on the April ballot, adding that the issue belongs to the Fox district residents.
“This was created by the citizens. We spent a lot of time working with the citizens and the community even to come up with the list of projects they wanted,” he said. “This is about what kind of school district the community wants. Ultimately, in April, we’re going to put this to a vote. It’s the community’s call.”
Wipke said his experience at Fox has been a good one.
“As I make this transition, I want to say it’s been an honor to be the superintendent of the Fox School District,” he said. “The community is wonderful, and they rally around the school district. They want a solid education for their children.”
Wipke said he’s enjoyed meeting the students and staff at Fox.
He said the staff gives “their heart and soul to provide an outstanding education for students.”
Wipke said he now will work “hand in hand” with Ladue’s current superintendent, Donna Jahnke, to make the transition to that school district a smooth one.
Jahnke will retire June 30.
In the meantime, Wipke said, he will continue to take his responsibility to Fox seriously.
“My priority is working for Fox. I plan to stay connected and united and work incredibly hard for this district,” he said. “My hope is that (the Fox community) continues to look forward to the future. The future looks bright for Fox.”
Also at the Nov. 1 emergency, closed meeting, the Fox school board voted unanimously to pay Brent Underwood of the Missouri School Boards Association up to $30,000 to help with the search for a new superintendent.