By Gina Buccino
MORROW - As Little Miami Schools students finish classes this week and look ahead to a free summer, Superintendent Ralph Shell is looking ahead to that and more. After 30 years in education, he's retiring.
Shell, 60, said that he wants to spend more time with his family and work on his Hillsboro farm, where he plans to harvest black walnuts. He had earlier announced he would retire effective July 31.
He came to the district in July 2000, serving as a substitute superintendent for two months, before being asked by the board to accept the position full time. In his career, Shell taught in Wilmington, and was in Mount Healthy Schools for 13 years, teaching, coaching, and serving as business manager. He also was superintendent in Highland County, Goshen and Preble County and business manager in Adams County.
Board member Michael Cremeans said he will miss Shell, a leader he credits with helping bring the community and the school district closer together.
Cremeans said 12 candidates have expressed interest in the job and the board will involve the staff and community before choosing a new superintendent.
Shell said the biggest hurdle his successor will need to clear is a bond issue to build new schools, a recommendation made by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
The group called for construction of a new middle school for grades 6-8 and three new elementary schools, for kindergarten through fifth grade.
The district will not be able to receive a 28 percent reimbursement from the state until 2008 for new construction or improvement to existing buildings.
Any new construction prior to that will fall to taxpayers through a bond issue.
Meanwhile, the district has purchased 10 portable classrooms from the Lakota School District; six classrooms for Maineville Elementary and four at the high school to help with increased enrollment.
Shell said 200 new students entered the district last year, with 80 enrolled at the high school.
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