Valparaiso schools tap Frataccia as superintendent
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent May 15, 2014 9:24PM
Ric Frataccia, school superintendent. | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: June 17, 2014 2:49PM
VALPARAISO — Ric Frataccia will become the new superintendent of Valparaiso Community Schools come July 1.
The School Board announced its selection Thursday night and also the hiring of Frataccia’s choice of assistant superintendent, Julie Lauck.
Lauck is currently the superintendent of Argos Community Schools, a smaller district in Marshall County near Plymouth.
Frataccia will replace Superintendent Mike Berta, Frataccia’s former boss at Portage Township Schools who will retire Aug. 1 after being a temporary superintendent when the school was financially troubled.
Lauck will replace former Valparaiso High School Principal Jim Doane, who Berta brought in as assistant to the superintendent.
“It’s rare, I think, in a person’s career that they start off at a great school like Valparaiso and, 20 years later, return to a great place like Valparaiso,” Frataccia said.
He and his wife, Kaye, who also taught in the Valparaiso system, first came to the city in 1988 from Texas when her mother was ill and were impressed with the city and its people being so friendly, he said.
School Board president Mark Maassel compared Frataccia and Lauck to Berta and Doane when they started in their positions.
It’s a combination of someone with knowledge of the community and a newcomer who sees things as an outsider.
“Neither one is the total package by themselves,” Maassel said.
The school board members praised Frataccia for being able to continue Berta’s policies and for continuing his education across the country even after earning a doctorate, which they said is consistent with the district’s philosophy.
Board member Jim Sarkisian noted he’s worked across the country from teaching to all levels of administration and even teaching at the college level.
Lauck has also taught, been a principal and been an assistant superintendent.
Frataccia said that in his administration, the best idea will always win and that Valparaiso schools will continue to improve.
“Even excellent places have places to grow, and places to grow are what makes it pre-eminent. And together we’ll get there,” he said.
The announcement of Fractaccia’s hiring comes about four months after the February announcement of his resignation as superintendent of Portage Township Schools.
He said he wasn’t planning to retire and was considering Valparaiso, another superintendent position and university teaching as options.
“I typically leave after 10 years,” Frataccia said. “At the 10-year mark, the school district needs new eyes.”
He also announced that he would not stay in the Valparaiso superintendent’s job for more than 10 years.
Frataccia’s salary will be $140,000 a year, below the limit of $158,000 the board set during the superintendent search.
Lauck’s salary will be $115,000, and she has declined the school’s health care coverage.
Frataccia said he will remain on the Valparaiso Parks Board.