UPDATE: School Board superintendent to retire this summer

Published 8:16 am Thursday, February 17, 2022

Calcasieu Parish School Board Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus officially announced his retirement on Wednesday. Effective June 30, Bruchhaus will exit his eight-year position as superintendent, 26 years with CPSB and 34 years serving Louisiana public school systems.

“It has truly been so rewarding to be part of the great Calcasieu Parish education family for the last 26 years, but especially the last eight years as superintendent,” he said. “The huge responsibility to contribute to the success of an entire generation of students is only possible with the daily efforts of the wonderful group of administrators, teachers and support employees here in Calcasieu.”

Bruchhaus’ contract is scheduled to end in 2024 but with national averages for district superintendents’ tenure averaging only 2.5 years he said he knew his time would be up sooner. “I had an inkling that I wouldn’t make it that far just because 10 or 11 years as superintendent is a lot with all of the things going on.”

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Despite the tremendous difficulties of hurricanes and COVID-19, Bruchhaus said neither played a role in his decision to retire. “While those two things certainly created a level of difficulty, gave me a lot of gray hair, there just comes a point where sometimes in a school system a new outlook and fresh outlook is needed,” he said.

“I’ve worked in enough school systems to know I didn’t want people to say that about me—‘It’s time for him to leave. He’s old, outdated and not the wave of the future.’ So, I think this time would’ve been the right time regardless of hurricanes and pandemic. I just would’ve had a lot more brown hair.”

Prior to his departure, Bruchhaus said reaching specific FEMA-related hurricane recovery goals and strong state testing will be his main focus.

“Mr. Bourne and I really work on that (FEMA-related hurricane recovery) for part of every day we’re here. It’s very demanding. I hope to get to a pretty good place with that by the time I leave.”

Additionally, “Testing— whether you hate it or like it, that is what measures our success in the eyes of the state. It’s important that we perform well on that…We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing because everything counts this year for us,” he said.

Members of the Calcasieu Parish School Board will soon begin the search for the next superintendent but Bruchhaus said he will have very limited involvement in the process. “What I’ve offered to the board, Mrs. Ballard, the board president, I told her I would be a resource in any way they needed me to be for the remainder of my time. What I will not do is get involved in the politics of choosing the new person.”

Bruchhaus will not provide any recommendations or any comments on the candidates, he said. “After all these years, I’ve learned it’s impossible to choose your replacement.”

Should the board choose to hire from inside the district, there are “quite a few outstanding candidates” who have been able to gain quite a bit of experience, he added. “That was the goal on purpose. I wanted there to be that opportunity for people to take that next step.”

While recommendations and opinions on candidates are off of his table, Bruchhaus does believe CPSB’s next leader must be in the business of caring for people. “Education will always be a people business…If you don’t do that in this job, you lose the faith and support of not only the employees but the community. The person in this job needs to demonstrate outwardly that people are what’s important. That’s where the rubber meets the road.”

Following his retirement, Bruchhaus said he intends to continue working in a full-time capacity, likely in management, elsewhere. “Even during the holidays, my wife has to sit on me because I’m always nervous and ready to do something. I see myself going down some new path, working and trying to be productive,” he said.

“What I’ve come to understand in these eight years is that management is a huge component of being successful for me.”

Regardless of what’s next, Bruchhaus said he is certain that CPSB will continue to serve its stakeholders with the highest quality. “I have great confidence that the education team here in Calcasieu Parish will always serve students at the highest of levels and I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given to be a part of this team.”