Albert Lea deputy superintendent to return to Austin

Published 8:16 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Volz hired as executive director of operations

Lori Volz


For Austin Public Schools, Albert Lea Area Schools’ deputy superintendent was a find — again.

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“When an experienced person comes forward, it’s tough to say no — especially one with 11 years already in your district,” Austin Public Schools Superintendent David Krenz said.

For Albert Lea Area Schools, that find marks the end of Lori Volz’s decade with the district.

On Monday, the Austin school board approved Volz’s new contract during its annual board retreat, Austin school board chairwoman Carolyn Dube confirmed. As of May 8, Volz will work as Austin Public Schools’ executive director of operations. This is the same position she had previously, Dube said.

Volz said she made the decision for a variety of professional and personal reasons, including Austin Public Schools’ larger size and status as a growing district. Her last day in office with Albert Lea Area Schools is May 7, with her official last day May 10.

“It’s been a great 10 years,” Volz said of her time with Albert Lea Area Schools. “I feel good about everything that I was able to accomplish with the team and with the staff, and it’s just nice to transition on to another chapter of my professional career and professional life,” Volz said.

She originally left Austin Public Schools to cut her commute time and be present for more family activities while her daughter was still in high school, Volz said.

Albert Lea Area Schools board chairman Ken Petersen thanked Volz for the work she did for the district.

“Lori has always done a great job in managing our finances, and so I’m disappointed to see her go, but as a district, we’ll move on to whoever’s next,” Petersen said.

According to Krenz, the candidate pool was small, and the district was aware the number of experienced candidates applying would be low.

Volz is highly qualified, Dube said, and called her one of the best financial directors within the field with a wealth of experience and knowledge.

“We are welcoming her back with open arms,” Dube said.

Though Dube did not know Volz from her previous time with Austin Public Schools, she said other board members spoke highly of her and Volz presented herself as professional who is excited about what she does.

To Krenz, she also maintains a difficult perspective for those involved in finance — that her work is about education as well as dollars and cents.

Funk said Volz has been a key piece of the administrative team.

“I wish Lori the best in her new opportunity,” Funk said. “She has been a wonderful partner in the last 10 years as we have done great things for the staff and students of our community.”

Funk said Volz is a mentor to new administrators and has been key in several changes for the district, including bringing the employee onsite health clinic, upgrading building HVAC systems, funding thousands of Chromebooks for staff and students, bringing voluntary pre-kindergarten funding to the district and aligning funds that helped add around 50 teaching positions.

“It’s been just a pleasure, and it’s been rewarding that we’ve been able to initiate so many projects and programs that benefit students,” Volz said. “This is why we do what we do. This is why I’m in this field for work is that I want to make the difference in the life of a child.”

The new executive director of finance and operations will have a $150,000 salary prorated from her start date until June 30, at which time the position will be included in regular salary negotiations for a two-year contract for academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21, Austin Public Schools Director of Human Resources Mark Raymond said.

Funk said the district is not considering any countermeasures to retain Volz.

This is a change from 2016, when Volz accepted a position with Mankato Public Schools but then decided to stay in Albert Lea. After she announced she would be staying, Volz was offered an annual $10,000 stipend and further retirement contribution.

In addition to 10 years in Albert Lea and 11 in Austin, Volz also worked as business director for Blue Earth Area Schools for 14 years.

“It has been a pleasure to work for Dr. Mike Funk for the past 10 years,” Volz said in an email. “The administration and staff of ISD#241 have worked diligently to support the education of our students. I have been grateful to be part of this wonderful journey.”


About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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