Carroll High Principal Steve Haluska (right) resigned this week. His stand-in will be assistant principal Tammie McKenzie (left).
Carroll High Principal Steve Haluska (right) resigned this week. His stand-in will be assistant principal Tammie McKenzie (left).
August 30, 2013

Two weeks into a new school year, the Carroll Community School District board of directors voted unanimously to accept the sudden resignation of Steve Haluska from his position as high school principal, effective today. Citing a personal conversation with Haluska, CCSD superintendent Rod Cordes reported to the board that the administrator felt it was "time for a change."

"He certainly voiced the concern, he knows the timing isn't the best, but I think it was a situation where he thought long and hard about it," Cordes said. "Obviously I think a person has to be happy in what he's doing, and if he feels a change is necessary, I respect that, I guess."

Haluska's official letter of resignation did not offer a reason for his decision to resign.

"Working with staff who have given of their time to serve this district has been a privilege," read the letter. "Of our combined accomplishments I am very proud, and the Carroll Tigers will always hold special memories for me."

In a call with the Daily Times Herald this morning, Haluska declined at this time to comment further on his decision, but said that he was very grateful to Cordes for his support during the transition.

"In no way was it anything other than me approaching him," Haluska said. "I can't thank the superintendent enough for all he has done for me. We've had very good conversations, and he has been extremely supportive in the way he handled it."

Cordes will present a plan for filling the position at the regular board meeting on Sept. 16. Until then, assistant principal Tammie McKenzie will take over responsibilities of the office. Cordes expects her to handle those duties for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year.

McKenzie has been with the district for 12 years. She taught art for four years, before moving into the assistant principal position in 2005. Her salary this year is $78,600.

Though unable to account for Haluska's decision, Cordes confirmed that it was unexpected.

"The timing of it surprised me more than anything else," he said. "I think he originally thought he would go one more year, then consider retiring or leaving."

Board member Dennis Molitor asked what options would be available to the board if it chose not to approve Haluska's resignation. Cordes said it could take legal action for breach of contract, but that he would not recommend such action. Board president Kim Tiefenthaler agreed.

"If he's not happy coming to work or whatever, I think it's time to allow him to move on," said Tiefenthaler. "I wouldn't be interested in any recourse. That's just not the way to operate, and it wouldn't be good for either party."

Immediately following the special board meeting Thursday afternoon, Cordes sent an email to district staff emphasizing that the decision to resign was Haluska's own and not prompted by himself or the board.

"I want to make one thing VERY clear, neither the board nor I asked for Mr. Haluska's resignation, he just believed it was time for a change," the email read.

"Having lived in the community for 15 years, I know how rumors can run rampant," Cordes replied in response to Daily Times Herald questions about the necessity for the emphasis. "I wanted to make it clear from the get go."

Haluska served the district for 19 years. He began as a driver's education teacher in 1994 before accepting the position as principal in 1998. He also coached girls and boys cross country, junior-varsity basketball and middle school track teams during his tenure. His salary for the 2012-2013 school year was $93,200. This year he would have made $96,400.

According to Cordes, a significant part of Haluska's legacy in the district is Carroll High School's 2012 recognition as a Blue Ribbon School, as well as his work with leaders of Des Moines Area Community College to provide more opportunities for high school students to receive college credit. Officials say he will be missed.

"Students were in his heart, and he did what he could to help them, especially at graduation," said Tiefenthaler. "Everybody out there (at the high school) does everything they can to make sure every student has an opportunity to walk across that stage."