Lake Mills superintendent talks goals for first 100 days

Published 4:54 am Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Chris Rogne, superintendent of Lake Mills Community School, has been at his new job since July 1, but he has been clued in to upcoming district projects since May after he accepted the position.

Chris Rogne

This is Rogne’s first superintendent role.

“Obviously when you’re taking the classes to prepare you’re set up for a mentor teacher or a mentor superintendent and following along with them to see the ins and outs over a couple of years in the job, but honestly when you get into this chair and it’s your job, things are different then,” he said. “… When the decision comes down to you it’s different than following somebody around watching them do it.” 

Rogne admitted he did not have measurable goals for his first 100 days in office, but wants to be part of the district’s team, and does not want to change things.

He said people were helpful in on-boarding him and explaining why things were done a certain way.

“What’s good about not having that experience is that I can learn the way things are done here and then, over time, hopefully add some value to moving things forward, keep improving.”

Within his first 100 days, he wants to make connections and learn about the area. That meant finding a home (Lake Mills is a 90-minute drive west from his home), and confessed that in an ideal world he and his family would have moved to town a month ago.

“That piece should be coming together this week for me to be a permanent member of Lake Mills, and I’m looking forward to that,” he said.

Rogne admitted finding housing was challenging, but said other than that he was on pace with what he needed to be doing.

He said throughout this month and next, he wanted to build relationships and is trying to meet new people, whether in school, the town or the area. In doing this, he wants to understand how things were done and why they were done that way.

“It’s been really good, and most of it’s been people,” he said. “The welcome I’ve received has been overwhelming.”

In fact, being visible and part of the community was a theme he has heard during his short time in Lake Mills.

He has also observed a pride in the district with a helping community that had “high expectations for all,” something he hoped to continue.

He also plans to meet with community leaders, business owners and students, and while he has met some he said he had a ways to go. 

So far, he has toured the John V. Hanson Career Center, where he met various superintendents and business leaders. He has also met leadership at Waldorf College and the booster club, among others. He even spent time in Lake Mills for July Jubilee. 

And then there was coffee.

“Honestly, some of the best connections I’ve ran into, too, is buying coffee up at Don’s Motor Mart and running into people that have come up, said, “Hey, I think I’ve seen you on Facebook, I’d like to introduce myself,’” he said.

By September, he wants to deliver on district goals, and said he wanted to think about the 2023-24 school year.

Rogne said one skill that’s transferred over from his work as a principal was time-management.

“In school there’s a lot of moving pieces that maybe the public doesn’t always see,” he said. “I feel like just the different pieces of curriculum, assessment instruction, building operation management and all the different departments that happen, I feel like I’ve had exposure to them so what’s come across my desk so far I haven’t really been surprised by because a school’s a school.”

He also wants to establish a School Improvement Advisory Committee composed of community members, business owners, educators and parents to review student achievement data, building maintenance plans and other programming within the district.

“We’ve got really good people here at the school, good families involved, good support systems to help make things happen and move things forward here, and I’m just really looking forward to being a piece of that team to help provide the best education and opportunities we can for students here in Lake Mills,” he said.

Prior to working at Lake Mills, Rogne was principal at Crestwood Secondary School in Cresco, Iowa, where he led two buildings and admitted his experience managing moving pieces helped prepare him for his current role.