Superintendent Dr Richie gives credit to his team at NPHS

Dr. Mike Richie, Northland Pines School District Administrator, 

earns top national award:  2012 Superintendent of the Year! 

As the district celebrated his great honor on October 22, Dr. Richie paid tribute to all within the NPSD who have excelled in the classroom and beyond to elevate student achievement. 


Below directly printed from the National Association of School Superintendents: 


Meet Dr. Mike Richie, Superintendent of the Northland Pines School District located in Eagle River, Wisconsin.

     Mike is an award-winning educator with over 25 years of experience in education. He is currently in his fourteenth year as a superintendent. Prior to assuming leadership of Northland Pines in 2004, he successfully led both larger and smaller districts. He has also served eight years as an elementary principal and 6 years as a classroom teacher.

     When Mike assumed district leadership at Northland Pines he immediately established a Building & Design Committee to plan, design, and construct a cutting-edge high school which would become the hub of the community. Under his leadership the district built the $28.5 million dollar facility on time and under budget.     Mike incorporated environmental impact, energy efficiency, and sustainable needs, and as a result Northland Pines High School was certified as the first LEED Gold Certified high school in the U. S. by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The project has won numerous awards and has been featured in numerous magazines and publications. It continues to be an eco-friendly, technology-advanced learning environment for students. As a result of Mikes forward thinking, the district now utilizes wireless technology and energy savings in all of their buildings.  Mike and his team members were invited to present The Secrets to Driving Down Energy Costs in Your Schools at the 2011 Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA) spring conference and at the 2011 Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) state convention.

     Another challenge Mike faced at Northland Pines was a distinctly negative perception of the district by the community and other school districts. As a result, Open Enrollment students were fleeing and the district was losing thousands of dollars in revenue. He immediately initiated a concerted effort to reverse this situation. To promote the new facilities and improve perception of the district, Mike initiated multiple strategies, including quarterly newsletters, a vibrant district website, district and specialty brochures, and quarterly administrator Coffee Klatches.

     NPSD was the case study for his doctoral dissertation which was titled How Open Enrollment Affects A Medium Sized School District In Northern Wisconsin. He used his research findings to completely reverse the trend; in fact, the 2011- 12 school year data shows a positive funding into the district.

     Mike is actively involved in the community as a member of the Chamber of Commerce Board, the YMCA of the Northwoods-Eagle River Board, and the Rotary Club.  He has also created many business partnerships with the district, involving the YMCA, CornerStone Custom Builders, Headwaters Council for the Performing Arts, Northwoods Childrens Museum, Special Olympics, and Parsons of Eagle River. Vilas County and the townships within the district rely heavily on tourism; the school district now plays a key role in the success of many large community events by not only providing facilities, but by offering staff and student volunteers as well.

     As a result of his commitment to face-to-face communication, visibility in his schools, and active involvement in his community, the Eagle River community now rallies behind his districts initiatives.

     The NPSD is a property rich school district with declining enrollment. The funding formula compels the district to go to an operational referendum every three years to exceed the revenue caps. Due to Mikes efforts, the district has been able to pass two consecutive three-year (2006-2009 and 2009-2012) operating referendums, and even extending the current referendum over four years instead of three. Not only did these referendums follow a $28.5 million dollar construction referendum for the high school building, they were passed during some of the most difficult economic times in history. These accomplishments were noted across Wisconsin, and Mike and his Board President were invited to present Strategies That Can Help Achieve Success In Passing a Referendum at the 2010 WASB state education convention.  Mike is already preparing for the 2013 referendum by emphasizing to staff, administration, the board, and the community how the district is continuously being fiscally responsible and that its facilities are a central hub utilized throughout its communities.

     Mike Richie takes his responsibility for quality instruction just as seriously as quality facilities and solid district funding. Through administrative restructuring he created a Director of Instruction & Assessment position and effected a dramatic improvement in student achievement. The district is now using William Daggett anjd Doug Reeves research to focus  rigor and relevance. He and his team of administrators, board members and teachers attend the Wisconsin Leadership Academy annually in Madison, Wisconsin, where they review the latest educational research and best practices as well as model school reform strategies. Using the strategies appropriate for Northland Pines their test scores have continued to improve each year.

     Even with all of his success, Mike still admits to some frustrations. Like other superintendents, he is annoyed when he has to take time away for comparatively unimportant chores or non-educational issues. He has learned to manage them by taking a proactive approach to more compelling matters.  Northland Pines was one of the first in his state to develop Professional and Support Staff Employment Handbooks to comply with Wisconsins elimination of collective bargaining. A new competitive salary schedule is being developed to replace steps and lanes based on years of experience with a tiered salary structure that will reward effective teaching, classroom performance, and professional staff development and establish benchmarks for use of technology, peer training, and committee involvement.

     Mike has also established an Insurance Committee to make modifications that will save his district hundreds of thousands of dollars by reducing the overall premium amounts without changing the employees out-of-pocket deductible.  He presented the importance of Selecting the Insurance Consultant at the 2011 Wisconsin Association of School Business Officers (WASBO) Conference.

     Mike Richie is considered a visionary who leads by example and actively encourages forward thinking. He has embraced todays communication resources with a district Facebook page and use of Twitter, monthly superintendent video-casts, and production of a district promotional video. He and his team are designing a long range plan to maintain a focus on the districts mission and vision. He has also established a Charter School Committee that is applying for a grant for a school to begin in 2013.

     Northland Pines is now a lighthouse district in his state. Its Land OLakes Elementary School received the WI School of Recognition Award in 2010.  In 2011 the NPSD received the Standing Up for Rural WI Schools, Libraries, and Communities Award, for its YMCA partnership; the Special Olympics WI Organization of the Year Award and the Spectrum Awards of Excellence from the Wisconsin Schools Public Relations Association (WSPRA) for its district website and itsVoice of the Pines newsletter. In March of 2012 it received the Standing Up for Rural WI Schools, Libraries, and Communities Award for the high schools Building Trades partnership with CornerStone Custom Builders, Inc.  

     Mike has a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, a Masters in Educational Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Edgewood College, Madison, Wisconsin.

     Dr. Richie has a reputation for keeping the best interests of students as his top priority. He says he can be direct, but he believes in treating others with respect. He believes in collaboration and he attributes the complete reformation of the Northland Pines School District to teamwork; in fact, he says working with talented professionals who believe in school improvement and who are committed to excellence is what he enjoys most about his job. He finds nothing more gratifying than great results from hard work.

     His view of the optimum board/superintendent relationship is very clear.  He says, Vision, great communication and no surprises are the key components that will allow a Superintendent and School Board to create a positive and productive working relationship.  The Superintendent and Board must be working towards the same goal and strive for constant school improvement. 


Congratulations Dr. Richie on this tremendous achievement!


Shared by:  Eliason Realty of the North, Inc.
Eagle River and St Germain, WI 

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