MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (5/24/13) – It has been just over a month since Muhlenberg School Superintendent Dale Todd tendered his retirement to the school board on April 11, 2013. The board voted to "accept a notice of retirement" with no discussion.
Since that night, Todd has had little to say as his last days of the job he's held for 12 years approaches on June 30th, 2013.
As the board searches for an interim and permanent replacement with just over a month remaining to complete the process, Todd took time to look back over his 12 years as superintendent.
Todd told Surfky.com News in an exclusive interview, "I knew from the beginning I was in for a lot of challenging situations. When I interviewed for this position in April of 2001, I knew that the board at that time was looking for changes. Muhlenberg County had more Category Five schools than any other county in Kentucky. Category 5 is the state's term for facilities that need to be replaced due to age and other factors. I knew that the board in place at that time was looking to consolidate some schools, merging some schools, and closing others completely." Todd said.
"That's always difficult." Todd continued. "I was born here, I have over 36 years in the school system here, and I know that's always a difficult decision. Even when those decisions are best for the students, change is always hard. I knew going in to this job, there was going to be a great deal of change going on. I feel that over the years, the results show it was best for the children." Todd added.
Asked what one of the biggest challenges was during the past dozen years as superintendent, Todd said that would have to be the "consolidation of the high schools. Of course the reason for that was to combine our resources so we could have things like Martin Hall and Mustang Stadium. There is no way we could afford to do those things on two campuses. Another factor was to unite our county. We were divided with North and South High, and those two high schools had such different curriculum. We also wanted to do things to improve achievement. That is a slow process. Our goal was always to raise the bar. But with our ACT scores improving every year since the merger, that's proof that our teachers and administrators are getting the job done." Todd said.
"This particular board is very young. We have four new board members. Our chairman just has two years’ experience. When you run a district with a 60 million dollar budget there are decisions, tough decisions that are going to come up. My main concern has always been to do what's best for the kids." Todd emphasized.
When asked what he is most proud of looking back over his time as superintendent, Todd said, "I'm most proud of the previous boards, those men and women who have stepped up and made the difficult decisions...decisions they knew would not always be popular, but they did what they thought was best for the students. Every job I've been in I've tried to improve things, to make things better, and I'm very proud of these past boards. Also I'm proud we've been able to avoid cutting jobs, especially in these rough economic times."
"The percentage of students that are college career ready went up from 29% to 46% in just two years. We are seeing positive results occurring now that we were talking about just four years ago. We did the TELL survey, basically a survey of the staff asking them how satisfied they are with how well the schools are going, and to improve on 74 indicators out of 83, that says that our staff is pleased with what's going on in our schools. It makes me feel valued, and the decisions I've made over the years have been the right decisions."
"When boards change due to elections, they like to have their own people. I'm not bitter about retiring. There's no way I'd want to work with a board that does not want me. I know that leaving this year, there has been some controversy with that decision by the board." Todd noted.
"I think a lot of decisions by the board, concerning my retirement and the matter in which it was handled, were based on decisions I had to carry out that were made by previous school boards." Todd added.
"We are now going to have 3 superintendents in a period of 31 days the month before school starts. July is the busiest month as far as getting things started for the school year. I offered an alternative, but this was not something they wanted to consider." Todd said.
Todd noted that he made several offers to stay on a bit longer to make the transition less hectic, but says he received no response from members of the board. He also noted that this would not have cost the board any extra money, based on his retirement agreement.
Does Todd have any advice for who might take his place July 1st?
"Do everything you can do to provide students with a proper education to prepare them for what comes after high school." Todd advised.
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