Q&A: Dr. Tim Ricker Discusses RSD’s Transition Year

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Media by Ben Hughes (he/him)

Interim Superintendent, Dr. Tim Ricker visiting Marquette High School. His main goal is to create a smooth transition for the next superintendent of RSD.

Interim superintendent Dr. Tim Ricker is serving a one-year appointment for RSD while the Board of Education (BOE) looks for a permanent replacement following Dr. Mark Miles’ retirement last school year. Dr. Ricker has been in the education field for 45 years and has served as superintendent for 14 years in three different districts and two states. Since the beginning of his term, Dr. Ricker has made decisions regarding mask mandates, malware attacks, vaccinations and more.

The School Exec Connect will lead the search to find a permanent superintendent by Thursday, Dec. 16, to begin the 2022-2023 school year. First, they will create a profile for the superintendent. The entire process will involve recruiting and interviewing candidates that fit that profile.

The Messenger spoke to Dr. Ricker to gain insight into his life, the inner workings of the district and the search for the new superintendent. 

Once this new superintendent is hired, they will have had four superintendents in three years, so stability is really what I’m hoping for.”

— Dr. Tim Ricker

Q: What led you to become the superintendent? 

A: Well, it’s pretty simple. My three children grew up here in the Rockwood School District. I have grandchildren in the Rockwood School District. There seemed to be some need for some help. I have lots of experience. I had supervised the district for the last ten years for the Department of Elementary and Secondary ED. I just put my name in the hat. 

Q: What do you hope Rockwood gains from your time here? 

A: I hope they gain a little stability. Once this new superintendent is hired, they will have had four superintendents in three years, so stability is really what I’m hoping for. I really have nothing in a career to gain. Giving it all back is really what I’m about. 

Q: What has been your favorite part of working here at Rockwood as of now? 

A: Kids. I’ve been to a couple of football games. I’ve been to a couple of sporting events. I’ve been to a couple of student activities. I’ve been to every building. In the first week of school, I went to every one of our thirty-six sites. I’ve been in and out of classrooms. If it wasn’t for the kids, we wouldn’t be here, right? The people really make it enjoyable to work here—students first, then great administrators and great teachers.

The controversies—there’s always going to be controversy. I just think you need to be open and honest to people about them.”

— Dr. Tim Ricker

Q: How do you plan to handle all the controversy surrounding Rockwood right now?

A: The district has a great set of policies, procedures, and regulations. You have to listen to people. Listen to the varied opinions people have. 

Q: What are your views on the mask controversy surrounding RSD?

A: I think that the mitigation strategies that we’re using are well within the scope of our responsibilities and our purview. We think they’re working well. We’re not COVID free and I don’t think anybody will be COVID free, but we’re not experiencing huge quarantining problems like any of our other districts that are not in St. Louis County like Jefferson county and St. Charles county. Fow now, I think our mitigation strategies are working. Obviously, we recommend the vaccines. We recommend hand washing. We recommend social distancing 3 to 6 feet. We recommend masking.

Q: How has the shortage of bus, substitutes, and cafeteria staff affected RSD?

A: It’s affected it tremendously. Last spring, we had to cut bus routes up to a mile, because we didn’t have enough drivers. When we implemented that at the beginning of the year, it put a lot of pressure not only on our parents to bring children to school, but it put pressure on our bus drivers because we have very few sub drivers. The same is true with our food service system, especially in your building. Many of the food service workers that work in offices in other places had come to serve food in some of our buildings, especially Marquette because of a shortage of workers. The same is true for custodians and teachers’ assistants. But, it’s putting a definite strain on all of our schools and the district. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to for this year?

A: Just that transition. Making sure the BOE gets a solid individual in as superintendent and doing everything I can to help that person be successful. If the BOE can get a new superintendent in December or January, then we basically have half a year to make that succession planning work.