Eanes Superintendent Nola Wellman announced her retirement Thursday.
Wellman said in a letter to employees that she will retire at the end of the school year. She has been with the 7,800-student district nearly 10 years. Her contract was last extended in December 2011 and runs through June 30,2016.
“While there is always more to accomplish, I feel that it is the right time for me to seek other adventures that life has to offer,” Wellman said in her letter. “I will miss greatly witnessing firsthand the fabulous work of students and staff inside and outside the classroom, as well as seeing the daily impact that each of you make.”
Wellman received a raise and high marks during her annual evaluation last January. Her base salary as of April was $240,306 a year. She declined a request for an interview.
Her announcement comes two months after the district came under fire for hiring an assistant principal for Westlake High School who previously had been under criminal investigation for sending questionable texts to a male student at a Chicago-area school where he was dean. Weil was not charged with a crime but resigned from his job at Stevenson High School during the investigation.
Some school leaders, including Wellman, were aware of Paul Weil’s history during his interview and vetting process, but district officials said they hired him because he was the best candidate. A selection committee made up of school teachers and administrators had not been informed of Weil’s background until after they had interviewed him, officials said, but once they learned of the incident, they unanimously supported his selection.
The Eanes district withdrew its offer to Weil after pushback from parents and community members, some of whom called for Wellman’s resignation.
Parent Alex Knape, who asked the board to remove the superintendent the day after Weil’s hire was made public, called Wellman’s announcement “good news.”
“I don’t believe it is a coincidence that it comes after the hiring fiasco a few months ago,” Knape said. “The incident demonstrated she is severely out of touch with the Eanes school community and a change in leadership is necessary.”
A district spokeswoman said Wellman had been considering retirement for nearly a year, since she injured her back.
During her tenure, Eanes voters approved two bond packages: in 2006, two proposals totalling $58 million, and in 2011, a $54 million package.
The most recent bond package brought playgrounds into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, improved energy conservation, upgraded technology and built a new facility for the Adult Transition Program. She also has overseen a one-to-one computer to student initiative. In 2011, the district gave iPads to juniors and seniors at Westlake High School, expanded the program in 2012, and now provides the devices to all students.
“Nola Wellman has maintained a high level of student performance,” said Drew Scheberle, vice president of education for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. “She has maintained Eanes as the school district with the highest rate of direct college enrollment. She has embraced technology innovation more deeply than any regional public school district.”
Board President Rob Hargett said Wellman will be difficult to replace but the board is committed to finding a replacement who can build on her achievements.