The three finalist candidates for the Altoona school district superintendent job have ties to the Chippewa Valley, and one works in the district currently.
On Tuesday the school board chose Altoona Middle School Principal Daniel Peggs, Menomonie High School Principal David Munoz and Wayne Whitwam, an elementary school principal in the Centennial school district in the suburban Twin Cities, as finalists for the Altoona superintendent position.
The finalists’ names were released on Wednesday after the board selected them from among seven candidates chosen by Edina, Minn.-based education consultants School Exec Connect. Twenty-six people applied for the job.
“We interviewed seven very good candidates (Tuesday) and I am confident about finding a great fit,” Altoona school board President Robin Elvig said Wednesday.
The finalists will each spend a day in Altoona and be interviewed by various groups, including the public, on Jan. 28-30. Board members hope to choose a new superintendent by early February.
Peggs, 31, who received his bachelor’s degree at UW-Eau Claire before obtaining a master’s degree in educational administration at Concordia University, has been middle school principal in Altoona since 2016. Prior to that he worked as middle and high school principal as well as athletic director in the Gilman school district from 2014-16.
Peggs has past ties to Altoona. He did his student teaching there and taught physics and physical science at Altoona High School during his first year as an educator while sharing time between Altoona and Chippewa Falls High School. The Green Bay native subsequently taught at the middle school in Chippewa Falls for a number of years, then went to school for his master’s degree before his job in Gilman and his subsequent hiring back in Altoona.
Whitwam’s connection to the Chippewa Valley dates to his childhood. He was raised in Elk Mound and graduated with a bachelor’s degree at UW-Eau Claire before obtaining a master’s degree in counseling at UW-Stout.
Prior to his job in the Centennial school district, where he has worked since 2012, Whitwam was elementary principal in the Unity school district from 2006-12 and worked as middle and high school principal in the Clear Lake district from 2003-06.
His parents live about five miles from Altoona schools, he said, and his sister owns Stitch Supply Co. in Altoona.
“I have strong family ties there,” he said, adding that the Altoona district is attractive because of its dedicated staff and its students doing well academically.
Munoz has worked in his current job since 2010. He was associate principal of student services in the Wausau school district from 2003-10 and assistant principal at Central High School in the Westosha school district in southeast Wisconsin.
He has undergrad degrees at Lawrence University and Lakeland College and a master’s degree in administrative leadership at UW-Milwaukee. He was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Peggs obtained his superintendent’s license about 18 months ago and said he didn’t have plans to work in that job right away. Then the school board dismissed then-Superintendent Connie Biedron last year amid controversy and hired interim Superintendent Ronald Walsh for a one-year term that ends June 30.
“Then this opening happened, and it seems like the cards are falling in the right place for me now,” Peggs said, noting the Altoona community has embraced him. “I feel like I’m part of a family here.”
Whitwam and Peggs praised the Altoona school board’s decision to hire Walsh as an interim, a move they said helped transition from the difficulties of last school year to a smoother one this year.
“I’m glad we took our time by getting an interim superintendent (Walsh) to prepare and be able to focus on this (superintendent search),” Elvig said, saying she is pleased with the process used this time.