Monday, May 24, 1999

Leader of Lebanon schools to retire

Oft-criticized superintendent lasted 4 years

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Lebanon schools Superintendent Robert Harvey plans to announce his retirement today after nearly four years with the district and nearly 30 years in education.

        “He's accomplished everything he's wanted to with our schools,” district spokeswoman Carole Dorn said. “He's put us on the right path toward improving education, but he also feels it's a good time to (retire).”

        Two levies have been passed this year: a 2-mill, five-year permanent improvement levy in November; and a 3.52-mill operating levy in May for teacher and support staff pay and benefits.

        Mr. Harvey could not be reached for comment Sunday night.

        The district is more financially stable than when he arrived, Ms. Dorn said.

        When Mr. Harvey came to Lebanon, “it was not unusual to find textbooks that

        were 15 years old,” Ms. Dorn said.

        Mr. Harvey has helped revamp the curriculum and “move us toward a more rigorous accreditation program,” she said.

        School board member Valerie Reed said she is sad to see Mr. Harvey leave. His last day will be Aug. 11.

        “He's a very strong educational leader in this community,” Mrs. Reed said.

        Mr. Harvey has had to make some tough decisions concerning growth during his time with the district, she said. She declined to be more specific.

        “As we grow, more tough decisions are going to have to be made,” Mrs. Reed said.

        Lebanon schools have experienced almost a 40 percent increase in student enrollment in the last decade. The district, which had about 4,400 students who enrolled last fall, is projected to increase to 7,492 in the 2007-08 school year, based on recent enrollment trends.

        Some residents objected recently to the district's decision in March to priva tize its bus service by hiring Laidlaw Transit for at least five years.

        Officials have said rapid growth overwhelmed the district's transportation system, leaving some children on the bus until late in the day.

        Some parents have said they were concerned Laidlaw drivers will not care for students the way present Lebanon drivers do. All drivers have been offered their jobs back, and most have accepted.

        Board member Walt Davis said he was disappointed to get a letter from Mr. Harvey on Friday announcing his retirement.

        “He was kind of the rock of Gibraltar,” Mr. Davis said. “He's been criticized a lot. But that didn't chase him from doing what he thought was right. He was the new guy in town, and he became the lightning rod for anything that anybody wanted to throw at the school system.”

        Mr. Harvey previously was assistant superintendent in the Mentor school district near Cleveland.


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