TIPTON — Dick Grimoskas probably won’t be finished in education when he retires as the Tipton Community School District’s superintendent later this month.
The district’s students, he said, shouldn’t make Tipton the final stop in their schooling, either.
Grimoskas, 61, will leave the Tipton district June 30 after 28 years as an administrator. He spent 19 years as an elementary and middle school principal, starting in 1987, before taking over as superintendent in 2006.
Over that time, Grimoskas said, Tipton students’ destinations after high school have changed. Manufacturing jobs in Eastern Iowa — at companies such as Caterpillar, International Harvester and Deere and Co. — are not as plentiful as they used to be, he said.
“Those jobs have dried up,” Grimoskas said. “We’ve tried to get our kids to understand that high school can’t be the last step.”
Today, he said, about 80 percent of Tipton students go on to college or other training after high school.
The district, which has just less than 1,000 students, has changed how it thinks about education, Grimoskas said. It now focuses less on memorization, for example.
“How much time do you want to spend on something you can Google in seconds?” he asked.
Tipton’s demographics also have changed during Grimoskas’ tenure. The number of students who receive free or reduced-price lunches — a common measure of poverty in schools — has increased from 18 percent when he came to the district to 28 percent today, he said.
“I think that has a lot to do with the jobs that are available and what those jobs pay,” Grimoskas said.
The district also has grown, prompting construction projects, and the community has been supportive — one tax to fund facilities upgrades passed with about 80 percent of the vote.
That’s not always the case today in education, Grimoskas said, pointing to the Iowa Legislature’s annual debate over school funding.
An annual increase of 4 percent in state funding once “was just a given,” he said. “Now it seems like it’s a battle just to get to 2 or 3 percent ... .
“The respect for K-12 education is not what it used to be,” Grimoskas said.
Grimoskas, however, has been enthusiastic about leading schools, said Chris Habben, the Tipton High School principal since 1992.
“It’s easy to see the passion that he has for the kids in the district and the quality education for them,” Habben said.
Grimoskas has job options at the college level after his retirement, he said. And he’s interested in volunteering in Tipton classrooms.
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Marlene Johnson, the superintendent of the Columbus Community School District in Columbus Junction, will take over as Tipton superintendent July 1.