Laurie Burgos, Pheng Lee take roles in new districts

Left, Laurie Burgos will become Evansville Community School District’s new superintendent, and right, Pheng Lee will be DeForest Area High School’s new principal. Both will start their new roles at the beginning of the 2021-22 fiscal year in July.

Two Verona Area School District administrators are taking jobs in new districts.

Assistant superintendent for academic services Laurie Burgos will be the new superintendent for the Evansville Community School District, the district announced on Wednesday, April 14. Burgos will start the role on July 1, succeeding Jerry Roth, who is retiring.

Verona Area High School associate principal and director of Exploration Academy Pheng Lee will become the principal for DeForest Area High School starting in July, succeeding retiring principal Machelle Schwarz.

The departures bring the number of VASD administrators leaving the district at the end of the year to four; superintendent Dean Gorrell and Badger Ridge Middle School principal Alan Buss are both retiring. Another four administrators left the district at the end of the 2019-20 academic year, three to retirement and the other to an administrative role in a different school district.

Burgos was one of four finalists in VASD’s search for a new superintendent last year, from which Tremayne Clardy was selected. Evansville chose her for her track record of driving an equity framework and strategic plan in VASD, the ECSD announcement said. She was selected out of a pool of five finalists and 38 applicants.

“Together we will build upon the great work that has already been started and write a new chapter for a vibrant future in ECSD,” Burgos said in the announcement.

Evansville school board president Kathi Swanson said in the announcement that Burgos’ experience and collaborative leadership style are what the district needs in its next superintendent.

“The Board has no doubt that she is the right person to work with our incredible district leadership team and staff, students and families, to continue progress toward our mission of educating every student so they can achieve personal excellence,” Swanson said in the announcement.

Lee, who lives in DeForest and has two of his three children attending DeForest Area School District schools, said he loves the community in a news release printed in the district’s monthly newsletter.

“I am excited about the opportunity to serve as principal at DeForest Area High School and look forward to working with all staff, students and families to ensure that all students are successful,” he said in the release.

Lee was chosen out of 22 applicants and two finalists, the news release states.

The Verona Area Board of Education is scheduled to approve release of their contracts at its Monday, April 19, meeting.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.

News Editor

Kimberly Wethal joined Unified Newspaper Group in 2018, where she serves as the news editor for four publications and primarily covers the Verona Area School District and the City of Fitchburg. She previously was an intern with UNG starting in 2013.