Don Ortman reading

Outgoing Rock Valley Elementary principal Don Ortman reads to students in April of 2015. 

ROCK VALLEY—Longtime Rock Valley Elementary principal Don Ortman has resigned from the school district after 22 years.

“I love the kids and they love me. I love the joy in their faces when they see me,” Ortman said. “I always took it as a compliment when they accidentally call me ‘Mom,’ ‘Dad,’ ‘Grandpa,’ ‘Grandma.’ I will always compete to be the student’s and staff’s number one fan in all their endeavors.”

Faith Reformed Church in Rock Valley hosted an appreciation open house honoring Ortman on Thursday, May 30.

The 50-year-old stated that he is unsure of his future plans but hopes to remain in Rock Valley. He was the 2003 Iowa Elementary Principal of the Year, 2005 Iowa Character Counts Administrator of the Year and 2007 Iowa Reading Administrator of the Year.

On Feb. 7, the Rock Valley School District Board of Education unanimously agreed to offer Ortman a one year nonrenewable contract for the 2019-20 school year, which Ortman, accepted according to superintendent Chad Janzen.

However, shortly after this agreement the district began looking for a replacement for Ortman.

On March 12, a motion was unanimously carried by the board to approve confidentiality for elementary principal applicants.

On March 26, a contract worth $95,000 plus benefits was offered to Patti Kruger to be the elementary school principal for the 2019-20 school year. Kruger is finishing the academic year working in a similar role for two schools in the LeMars School District.

Neither Ortman nor Janzen elaborated on why Ortman decided to resign.

Ortman signed a resignation agreement with Rock Valley on April 12. Under this agreement, Ortman will no longer be employed by the district as of Dec. 31, 2019. He will perform administrative duties as assigned by the district from July 1 to Dec. 31. He agrees to not be on district grounds or attend district activities 7:45 a.m.-3:45 p.m. while employed with the district between July 1-Dec. 31.

Ortman will receive his regular wages and benefits until Dec. 31. He will be paid an additional cash amount of $100,000 made in two installments. He is allowed to find other employment starting July 1, but not for another Iowa public school district.

Ortman’s professional administrator license is set to expire on June 30, 2020.

In a YouTube video released by Ortman on May 19, he spoke about his career, the open house in his honor and leaving Rock Valley Elementary.

“I know many of you have questions for me,” he said in the video. “If the timing is ever right I will answer those questions that are out there and I will tell you the rest of my story, but as a Christian and someone who loves my school, I need time to process and pray about what has happened.”