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Community Ed names Pines' successor for top job

South Washington County Schools' Community Education soon will have a new leader.

District 833 officials picked Robert W. Lawrence of Litchfield, Minn., as the next Community Education director. The School Board must approve the hire.

Lawrence has held a similar position with the Litchfield Public Schools for the past two years, and spent the prior seven years coordinating programs for youth, seniors and disabled adults. He previously worked for an education service that oversaw continuing education seminars for professionals nationwide, according to District 833.

"We are very excited to have Bob Lawrence joins us. His experience in Community Education (CE) started in his home district while in high school by serving as a student representative on the district's CE Advisory Board," Superintendent Keith Jacobus said in a statement. "He epitomizes the focus of community education and lifelong learning. We look forward to continued growth and successes of our already exceptional programming through Community Education."

District 833's Community Education encompasses a wide variety of programming for youth and adults, from swimming lessons to early childhood programs, cooking classes to driver education. It operates a senior center and the district's high school diploma center, among numerous other activities.

In his application for the District 833 job, Lawrence wrote that he would "love to have the opportunity to begin contributing [his] organizational talent, strong communication skills, proven leadership ability, collaboration building experience, technological intuition and passion for building connections between K-12 schools and the community with South Washington County Schools."

Lawrence will fill a top administrative position left open when Ernie Pines, the former director, left the district earlier this year for personal reasons.

Lawrence's salary will be $93,600 for the 2013-14 school year, according to Denise Griffith, District 833's human resources director. Pines was paid $120,035 for the 2012-13 school year.

Lawrence will take over the roughly $12 million department at a time of budget changes. Community Education in the past had a larger percentage of reserve funds than other departments. District administrators said last month that will change and some of the excess reserves will be used to balance the department's budget for 2013-14.

Also, the budget is going to be reviewed prior to any program fee changes for the following year. In the past, Community Education's budget was approved after activity fees had been set.

Lawrence is expected to start in District 833 on July 1. He'll be a part of the superintendent's "cabinet" of top school district administrators and will serve on leadership teams.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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