Stoner Prairie gets new principal

Seth Jovaag

Stoner Prairie Elementary School has a new principal.

Mike Pisani will take over the job Aug. 8, succeeding Chris Olson, who resigned in June after five years at the Fitchburg elementary school to take a job in Baraboo.

Pisani, 35, has been principal at Elm Lawn Elementary School in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District for the past six years. Before that, he was an elementary school principal for two years in Johnson Creek and previously taught grades 1, 3 and 4 in Sun Prairie.

Pisani spoke briefly Monday to the Verona Area school board and said he wasn’t looking to leaving Middleton but felt the Stoner Prairie job was too good to pass up.

Pisani said the diverse population at Stoner Prairie was a “big reason” he wanted to work here. Last year, about a quarter of Elm Lawn’s 538 students were minorities, compared to 40 percent of the 420 students at Stoner Prairie, according to the state Department of Instruction. The percentage of students from low-income families is higher at Stoner Prairie, too, at 30 percent compared to 17 at Elm Lawn.

Pisani bested 122 candidates for the job, including roughly 45 who had previous administrative experience, superintendent Dean Gorrell said. His hiring was formally approved by the school board Monday.

The other finalist was Brian Babbitt, principal of Banting Elementary School in Waukesha, a “dual-language” school that groups native Spanish- and English-speakers together in bilingual classes.

Born and raised in Hurley, Pisani earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Edgewood College and a master’s from Cardinal Stritch. He lives in Waunakee with his wife and two children who will turn 5 and 3 years old this fall.

Pisani’s salary has not been set, but Gorrell estimated it will be between $107,000 to $109,000, which would be a substantial raise from the $83,000 he earned in Middleton last year, according to DPI figures.

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