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Published December 21, 2012, 11:11 AM

Retiring North Dakota school super expect smooth transition

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Wayne Sanstead says he's confident the department will be in good hands when he retires at the end of the month.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Wayne Sanstead says he's confident the department will be in good hands when he retires at the end of the month.

Sanstead is leaving the agency after 28 years in office. His retirement also marks the end to a public service career that has spanned 46 years, including 10 in the Legislature and eight as lieutenant governor.

Sanstead told the Bismarck Tribune that the reality of his retirement was beginning to hit him this week, as he sat in his office surrounded by boxes full of plaques, books and cards from educators and friends wishing him well.

"It's going to be a very different way of life in many aspects," said Sanstead, 76. "I think it's going to be the people and the relationships that have been formed across both the political spectrum and the educational system (that I'll miss)."

Former Mandan School Board President Kirsten Baesler was elected as the new superintendent in November. Sanstead said he's confident in Baesler's ability.

"It's been going very, very well. I don't see any kind of significant change in the office. I think the transition's going to be a smooth one," Sanstead said.

Baesler said Sanstead has done a great job in preparing her for the position.

"I couldn't ask for anything better. It's been more than anything anyone could've hoped for. He's been very supportive," Baesler said.

Baesler said the top priority when she takes over will be getting the department's funding and proposed bills before the Legislature.

She praised Sanstead's service and wished him well in retirement.

"The years he gave to the state of North Dakota at DPI and as lieutenant governor and in the Legislature are commendable," Baesler said.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Sanstead was an exceptional leader who was very passionate about improving education.

"Wayne Sanstead has had a very long and very outstanding career in public service in North Dakota. I think people really recognize that 46 years of public service is really something," Dalrymple said.

North Dakota Education Association President Dakota Draper praised Sanstead's years of service.

"He's given a lifetime to North Dakota and its students. He has much to be proud of," Draper said.

Draper said Sanstead has guided the state through numerous changes over the years. Among them were consolidation of schools, upgrades in technology and adapting to federal as best as could be done. He said Sanstead was professional and courteous to others.

"He always had a personal touch. You could disagree with him and he wouldn't hold that against you," Draper said.

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