Aurora superintendent of schools will retire

Ken Lahmers Published:

FROM STAFF REPORTS
Aurora — The local schools may have a new leader in the next few months.
Superintendent Russ Bennett announced at the Board of Education’s Nov. 26 meeting that he plans to retire effective Feb. 28, 2013.
Bennett told the Board he would officially submit his letter of retirement at the Board’s Dec. 17 session to give members time to plan for a successor.
He said although he enjoys his daily interaction with staff and students, Ohio’s recently passed new pension legislation makes the timing for his retirement compelling.
Bennett, 52, has served in the district for 30 years as a teacher, coach and principal, plus the last eight years as superintendent.
“I don’t know what is next for me, but I know I want to continue to make a difference in the lives of students and families,” he said.
Because of the new Ohio laws, Bennett said he expects many public employees to retire when they reach the 30-year mark in their careers.
The laws affect workers in the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System, Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, Highway Patrol Retirement System, School Employees Retirement System and State Teachers Retirement System.
GOV. JOHN Kasich sign-ed five bills Sept. 26 which established the revisions to the pension systems.
 While details vary from system to system, the bills include a number of changes to eligibility, cost of living increases and other retirement benefits in a way that generally allows those closer to retirement to be covered under existing guidelines and those further away receiving potentially reduced benefits.
Board President Gerald Kohanski said the Board  will meet in executive session in early December to review the district’s options in filling the post.
Initial options, according to Kohanski, are a quick search to name a permanent replacement by the end of February, naming an interim superintendent and conducting a longer search or the possibility of approaching Bennett with a retire/rehire scenario.
“We’re definitely seeking input from community members to help guide our decisionmaking, and encourage citizens to contact any Board member with input,” he said.
“Russ has done an outstanding job as superintendent,” said Kohanski. “Under his leadership the district has achieved the highest levels of performance academics and extracurricular activities.
“The Board will accept his resignation in December with a mixture of sadness and regret, while certainly wishing him the best in his future endeavors and happiness for him and his lively wife Judy.”
“To grow up in Aurora, graduate from AHS and come back as a teacher and administrator has been the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Bennett. “The time has flown by. This job has been very personal to me and I’m proud to be a part of a community that has supported its schools.”

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