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After serving as Wilton’s high school principal for 13years, Ken Crawford has accepted an offer to become superintendent of the Lone Tree SchoolDistrict in Lone Tree, a community of around 1,400 — 30 miles from Wilton.
Crawford met with officials at Lone Tree Wednesday, Dec. 14, where his contract, which will begin July 1, 2017, was finalized.
That night the Lone Tree school board approved the hire. Crawford met with his Wilton staff after school the same day (Dec. 14) to share the news. For Crawford, becoming a superintendent was a longtime career goal and he had been searching for a while.
“They (Wilton staff) knew I’ve been looking. They’re happy for me to achieve a goal but the principal change will be a concern,” he said. “The stability in our administration has been unparalleled. That has helped to get things done around here.”
By midday Dec. 16, the Lone Tree district posted the following to its Facebook page: We are pleased to announce that Mr. Ken Crawford has accepted the Superintendent of Schools for the Lone Tree Community School District. Mr. Crawford has held the Secondary Principal position at Wilton Jr./Sr. High School since 2004. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Crawford to the Lone Tree Community School. Go Lions!
Within 36 hours of signing the contract, the news of Crawford’s new position was circling social media.
“In the social media world and with cellphones, it’s tough to control information,” said Wilton superintendent Joe Burnett.
“It was right that Lone Tree made the announcement before we did. If Lone Tree had seen Wilton say ‘good luck Ken,’ how bad would that have looked? The hiring school typically does the announcing. We let the board and staff know immediately. Unfortunately it gets on social media and goes. That’s the world we live in.”
Crawford, 52, has worked in education for 29 years. He taught high school business around the state at North Tama, Algona and Knoxville before coming to Wilton in 2004 to serve as principal — his first principal job.
He lives in Wilton with his wife Dawn and their two sons, Alec and Cole, are both Wilton graduates.
While becoming a superintendent had been a longtime career goal, Crawford said he didn’t begin actively looking until his youngest son, Cole, graduated from Wilton in 2013.
“When the boys were in school you glance. But when Cole graduated, then I began actively looking to see what was out there.”
Eastern Iowa is where the Crawfords wanted to stay. Lone Tree will allow both Ken and Dawn to be close to their parents and family.
“I feel blessed and humbled,” said Ken. “It’s a big job and it’s a lot for a community to say, ‘You’re the one.’ I’m very excited and nervous at the same time.”
For Joe Burnett, Crawford is the only high school principal to serve during his tenure. Crawford’s 13 years as Wilton’s high school principal is the second longest tenure in school history behind Ed Williams, who served as WHS principal for 22 years.Burnett has been with the Wilton district since 2001 and was elementary principal when Crawford took over as high school principal. The next year Burnett took over as superintendent and has been working with Crawford since.
“It’s always been a career goal of his. He’s pursued it for a few years and found what he feels is a great fit. Being a Washington High School alum, I think he’s excited it’s close to home,” said Burnett.
Crawford said there are similarities between Lone Tree and Wilton. Both serve K-12 on one campus. Lone Tree is smaller, a Class A school with around 400 students. The district/community also recently passed a bond issue for a facility that will house a community center and wellness center. Crawford will be coming into a prominent role in that process.
“People want their school to stay there and grow,” he said. “Wilton has been home, especially with our boys. It’s not easy but with our boys being out of school, we have more freedom. It was not an easy decision. We have roots here. But I want that challenge. This is a life goal. A cap on my career.”
The Crawfords will look to move to the Lone Tree community and Ken said he sees himself having at least a decade left in education.“It’s close, yet seems far away,” said Ken of next school year when he will assume his new role.
“There’s still a lot to do here. I want to thank Wilton for the support. We’ve had a great run here. I’m humbled and blessed. There are no victory laps. I have a lot to learn.”
“I appreciate all he’s done for Wilton,” said Burnett. “He’s worked hard to move the bar.”