Schools closed due to snow

Schools will be closed on Wednesday, Feb. 20. There will be no school for all students. Adventure Club will be closed and all regular after school and Community Education activities are canceled.

Principals moving to new schools for a new year

May 24, 2016

A new school year is just around the corner, and with it comes several changes in leadership across the district. With grade reconfiguration and other transitions planned for the 2017-2018 school year, district leaders have designed a plan for the coming year that addresses vacancies in some of our schools while providing additional support for students, families and staff in all of our buildings.

“We are committed to making the best decisions we can to support our school communities as we move forward,” said Denise Pontrelli, superintendent. “We not only want to fill vacant positions, we also want to align the skills of our principals with the needs of our school communities. We’re hesitant to hire new principals that may just be cut at the end of the year. We believe this plan best meets our needs for next year, and allows flexibility for the future as we await a decision by the court of appeals regarding school closure.”

Two elementary schools, Afton-Lakeland and Andersen, currently have principal vacancies for next year. The plan provides leadership in those buildings, and will also provide support during the transition year for elementary buildings that may be impacted by boundary changes and school closures in 2017-2018. Additionally, the plan allows for an increased level of support as staff prepare for a move from junior highs to middle schools.

  • Assistant principal (AP) to be hired at Stillwater Junior High School
    An additional AP will be hired for one year to help Stillwater Junior High, a school of nearly 1,200 students, transition from a 7-9 junior high to a 6-8 middle school.

  • Carolyne Zieske to stay at Afton-Lakeland
    Carolyne Zieske, who has served as an interim principal at Afton-Lakeland since January, will remain as the school’s leader for the coming year.  Before coming to Afton-Lakeland this winter, Zieske served as a behavioral specialist at Lake Elmo Elementary. She holds licensure as both a principal and a special education director, and began her career as an elementary teacher.

  • Stacey Benz to lead Andersen Elementary
    Stacey Benz will be moving from her current position as principal of Marine and Withrow elementary schools to serve as the new leader at Andersen Elementary. Benz will take over for Hugh Roberts, who recently accepted a position that will allow him to work closer to home. Prior to coming to Stillwater Area Public Schools this past fall, Benz had worked at both the middle school and elementary school level. She also has experience as an instructional coach and an elementary school teacher.

  • Malinda Lansfeldt to lead Marine and Withrow Elementary 
    One of the district’s most veteran leaders, Malinda Lansfeldt, will take over as principal of Marine and Withrow elementary schools next year. Lansfeldt has worked in the district for more than nine years, most recently serving as the principal of Lily Lake Elementary. She also worked as a district-level administrator overseeing elementary education from 2013 to 2015. Through her many roles in the district Malinda has developed relationships with families and staff, including many at Marine and Withrow.

  • Nate Cox to lead Oak Park and Lily Lake Elementary with support of an assistant principal
    Nate Cox, who currently leads Oak Park Elementary, will also take over as the leader of Lily Lake for the coming year. An assistant principal (AP) will be hired to provide additional support for the two schools. The AP position is expected to be hired this summer. Cox has served as principal at Oak Park since 2013. Prior to coming to Stillwater, Cox was a principal in the Willmar School District.

Benz, Lansfeldt and Cox will finish out the school year at their current schools, and will make the move to their new schools over the summer. They will spend the next several months meeting with staff and parents and getting to know their new school communities.

NOTE: The school board has voted to stay any school closing until a decision is made by the court of appeals. This stay does allow for planning to continue to ensure district staff and families are prepared for either outcome.