By Kevin Kelley
Fairview Park City Schools Superintendent Brion Deitsch has announced his plans to retire at the end of July.
Deitsch’s submission of his resignation letter at the board of education’s Nov. 19 meeting came as a bit of a surprise to board members, President Joe Shucofsky said.
“I wasn’t aware that he was going to make that announcement,” Shucofsky told West Life.
The board president clarified that he wasn’t necessarily surprised Deitsch is retiring, but was surprised that he submitted his resignation letter at the Nov. 19 meeting. At a conference of the Ohio School Board Association Shucofsky attended earlier this month, leaders said coming changes in retirement benefits offered by the State Teachers Retirement System would likely lead to many superintendent resignations in coming months.
Deitsch told West Life it is his understanding that the changes, and a slew of superintendent resignations, will come in 2015, and he thought it would be better to announce his plans to retire sooner rather than later.
“I just wanted the board to be in the best place possible going forward,” said Deitsch, who has nearly five years remaining on his current contract.
Deitsch said he will become a grandfather in January. His daughter’s family lives in the Atlanta area, and the superintendent said he wants to move to the South to be closer to them.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while,” Deitsch told West Life. He said he would like to work with children during his retirement, perhaps with a return to coaching youth sports.
Formerly the superintendent of the Edgerton Local School District in northwestern Ohio, Deitsch joined the Fairview Park school district in August 2005. He oversaw the district’s portion of the Gemini Project, which included the construction of the new Gilles-Sweet Elementary School.
Giving credit to the district’s staff, Deitsch noted that at the start of his tenure the district faced budget shortfalls and was on the verge of a state academic watch. Today, he said, the district is financially stable and has recently received excellent marks on the state report card.
Shucofsky said some work on the search for Deitsch’s replacement has begun. The school board president contacted the Ohio School Board Association, which provides personnel search assistance.
“We’ve got quite a bit of time,” Shucofsky said.
The expected increase in superintendent retirements will likely make the search for a successful leader easier, he said. However, many candidates will be state retirees who would have to be rehired. The practice of simultaneously receiving a public retirement payment and a public salary is known as “double dipping” and has been criticized. Shucofsky said the Fairview Park City Schools currently does not have a policy on double dipping. Many school boards in Ohio will be forced to confront that issue on coming months, he added.