NILES - Outgoing Superintendent Mark Robinson says he was not looking for a new job, but when the position of a student growth and alignment specialist with the Ohio Department of Education presented itself, he decided to see what opportunities existed.
"This is a bittersweet moment," Robinson said. "When I came here I really believed this would be my last job."
Robinson said it was a friend who showed him the job posting.
"I really wasn't looking for a job," he said. "This was a career opportunity that uniquely fit my qualifications, so I decided to send in my resume to see what would happen. I did not apply for any other job."
Robinson's last day with the Niles school district is Friday.
Niles board of education is holding a special meeting on personnel at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Niles Middle School.
When you go
Niles Board of Education is holding a special meeting on personnel at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Niles Middle School.
Board Member Susan Longacre said they likely will accept Robinson's retirement letter during the meeting.
She is disappointed that Robinson is leaving after 14 1/2 months on the job.
"Although I'm not surprised he is leaving," Longacre said. "I always thought he took this job as a stepping stone."
Longacre was not on the board when Robinson was hired. She said community members were told one of the reasons he was hired was his grant writing experience.
"We did not receive any new grants during his time here," she said.
Longacre would like the next superintendent to have some existing ties to the community.
"We cannot keep looking for superintendents," she said. "We have to focus on improving the education of our children."
Longacre said the district must have someone in the interim superintendent's position while a search for a new superintendent takes place.
Niles is the second of seven school districts that hired new superintendents in 2011 that are losing the new hires. Warren schools Superintendent Bruce Thomas, hired in July 2011, resigned in June 2012.
The district's business manager, Michael Notar was hired as Thomas' replacement.
When Niles Schools did the search that eventually led to Robinson's hiring, the school board hired the Ohio Schools Board Association to conduct the search.
"I will start my new job on Monday, but I'm willing to work nights and weekends to help the next superintendent's transition," Robinson said. "Niles holds a special place in my heart."
Robinson was hired as superintendent in August 2011. However, nearly a month before he began his job, he was the center of controversy because his contract, plus incentives, made him the highest paid superintendent in the county.
He was hired at $110,600 a year. His contract also allowed for a 7.5 percent bonus and another 1 percent increase for working nonworking hours.
That was especially a sore point among some district employees because the district was in the middle of contract negotiations with its unions and facing fiscal emergency.
"I hope people feel we made great gains," Robinson said. "Through a lot of work we were able to settle both union contracts. We kept our district out of fiscal emergency."
Robinson said the work is not over.
"We are not at the threshold of fiscal emergency as we once were," Robinson said. "Preliminary numbers show we should be OK over the next two years. However, we still have some deficit spending. The district may be facing some risks in the third and fourth years of the forecast."
The next person in the job will have to move students into the new buildings, including the new high school and two new elementary schools.
Robinson suggests the transitions likely will help the district financially by lowering some maintenance and other costs.
"Because of changes in the state's retirement system, we are facing a high number of teachers retiring this year," Robinson said. "The district may lower some of its costs through attrition."
The union contracts are through the end of 2013.
"Hopefully it will not be as difficult to settle them," he said.
In addition, Robinson said the next superintendent will have to continue the work already done to improve the district's state report card from effective to excellent.
"I would have loved to have seen the district make an excellent ranking," Robinson said. "We have not accomplished that at this point."
In his new job, Robinson will be working throughout northeastern Ohio preparing school districts in implementing new teacher and principal evaluation systems, student learning objectives and other areas based on reform initiatives coming from the state.
"There will be a lot of expectations for school districts, and my job will be to make sure they have what they need to succeed," Robinson said.