Richard Wilkinson, Frisco ISD deputy superintendent of business services, retired Sept. 30 after 20 years with the district.
While his most recent position with FISD was always to oversee the district’s business services, he has overseen several departments as the district has grown throughout the years.
“I really don’t know how high we as a district would have made it if it hadn’t been for Richard,” former FISD Superintendent Rick Reedy said. “He’s just a mover and shaker in getting things done and done well.”
At the FISD school board meeting on Sept. 12, every trustee, administrator and residents present spoke about Wilkinson’s time and dedication to further the district’s progress.
“I’d rather be talking about somebody else or talking about what we need to do as a district,” Wilkinson said. “But you want people to have liked what you’ve done.”
Wilkinson, an Irving native, attended the University of Texas at Arlington where he studied health and speech. He initially wanted to go into radio and television, but his dedication to baseball did not allow him to pursue that career path.
Wilkinson played baseball during his time at UTA. He did not start working in education right away, but instead was drafted by the Texas Rangers and played in the minor leagues with the Asheville Tourists for two years. Wilkinson said he does not talk much about his baseball days because it was so long ago, but he feels fortunate to have had the experience.
After playing ball, Wilkinson taught health and speech and coached sports, including volleyball and baseball.
Two years into teaching, Wilkinson earned his master’s degree in education and soon after began working in administration.
His first administrative duty was as assistant principal of a middle school in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. Then he moved to Carroll ISD, where he worked for 11 years as a principal and moved up to a position in personnel within central administration.
Wilkinson said he wanted to be in Frisco for the opportunity to work with Reedy and to further his career.
Wilkinson was hired as the district’s executive business director—a role he said has evolved over time.
“When I met Dr. Reedy, part of the deal was the opportunity to grow with the job, but I don’t think either one of us realized what was about to happen,” Wilkinson said. “I knew [FISD] had the potential to [grow] but nobody—even the people that were here and even the demographer they were using at the time—dreamed FISD was about to grow at such a fast rate.”
When Wilkinson started in 1996, 3,700 students were enrolled in FISD. Now more than 55,000 students are enrolled.
Wilkinson poses with Executive Secretary Charalotte Stubbs (middle) and former Superintendent Rick Reedy.[/caption]
“At the time I started, we were so small that I did a little of everything, like personnel, finance and payroll,” Wilkinson said. “It was a broader range of duties, but the title remained the same.”
As the district began to grow, Wilkinson’s duties moved toward construction, planning and purchasing sites for more facilities.
Some of the most challenging decisions Wilkinson said he had to make dealt with the district’s fast growth.
“We were growing so fast and we had to make decisions based on projections and planning in advance while rezoning families every year,” he said. “Most districts don’t have to face that.”
However, throughout the process Wilkinson said he has loved his job and FISD has been a great place to plan for with the board and community support.
Throughout his career, Wilkinson said two people have been crucial in his growth—Reedy and Frisco City Manager George Purefoy.
“I always felt that Dr. Reedy put me in a position to be successful and he was supportive of me,” Wilkinson said. “George Purefoy always took care of me, and if it wasn’t for him there would have been some schools that wouldn’t have opened.”
Wilkinson said what he will miss his relationships with the FISD staff and community members.
“I’ve had this opportunity to grow into the job and we never ran out of things to do, and I’ve enjoyed the fast pace,” he said. “Unbelievable opportunities here at FISD.”