By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN Delano Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John Sweet announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2012, at Monday night’s school board meeting.
Sweet has spent the last 41 years in public education, and 35 as a superintendent. He has been at Delano Public Schools the past seven years.
“While the mind, body, and spirit are in conflict with the calendar, the calendar is saying that it is time to retire,” Sweet said in a letter addressed to the school board. “It is very difficult to come to the realization that the calendar is winning out in this argument. However, I am grateful that the calendar won out later, rather than sooner.”
Sweet said it has been a privilege to be associated with such great school board members and school district during the past seven years.
“I want to thank very much those board members that brought us here in 2005, and for the support of all the school board members I have been associated with the past seven years,” Sweet wrote.
He went on to say he has truly enjoyed working with all the staff members at Delano Public Schools, and said he will especially miss that relationship.
“This is a job that is very hard to leave because of these associations and the educational excellence that everyone strives for and embraces,” Sweet wrote. “My time as superintendent at Delano Public Schools has been a growth experience.”
Sweet said the school community, and especially its students, are “extremely well served by everyone employed by the school district. The staff is the real strength of the school.”
“I think this community underestimates that a little bit,” he said. “The community is very fortunate to have the people that they have working here.”
Sweet said he submitted his notice to retire at this time to allow for the school board to have ample time to find his successor by July 1, 2012. He also offered assistance in any manner possible in securing his replacement.
To dispel any rumors, Sweet told the board he made the decision several months prior to the election this fall that he would submit his retirement notice in December.
School Board Chairman Peter Brasket said the district will use the June board meeting to formally recognize Sweet.
“The timing of this is very professional,” Brasket said. “It gives the district a good window of opportunity to do a proper search.”
He said, for the district’s organizational meeting Thursday, Jan. 5, he wants to begin discussion about a superintendent search committee, and he asked board members to think about what attributes they would like to see in a superintendent replacement.
Brasket said a process will be followed to ensure candidates are vetted by a constituent of educators, staff, parents, and taxpayers. He said he has worked with a couple of superintendents, and said Sweet is one of the most prepared administrators he’s ever known.
“It really makes our job, as publically-elected school board members, so much easier,” Brasket said.
“Thank you for finishing out such a long and wonderful career at this district,” Board Member Amy Johnson added.
Community member Dale Vander Linden expressed appreciation to Sweet for his involvement in several of Delano’s civic organizations, and said he also appreciates his making students aware of veterans affairs. Sweet said he wasn’t going anywhere, as far as when it comes to his civic involvement locally.
“It was very hard to push the send button on the computer when I sent the letter to the board,” Sweet said.
The board approved Sweet’s retirement, with Board Member Carolyn Milano voting against the motion.
Sweet obtained his master‘s degree in education at South Dakota State University, with a major in guidance and counseling, and obtained his doctor of education from South Dakota State University, with a major in educational administration.
Prior to coming to Delano, Sweet served as superintendent of the Madison Central School District in South Dakota from 1992 to 2005, the Douglas School District at Ellsworth Air Force Base from 1988 to 1992, and superintendent of West Central School District in Hartford-Humbolt, SD, from 1977 to 1988.
He also served as a high school principal for two years, as a guidance counselor, and as an infantryman in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970, serving in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.
Sweet was named the South Dakota School Superintendent of the Year in 1996, and also received a distinguished service award from the Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce that same year. In 2001, he was named the administrator of the year by the South Dakota Association of Education Office Professionals.