On Saturday, Edgewood Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker will retire, adding to that relatively low turnover rate in about three years for local schools.
Officials at the Washington, D.C.‐based Education Advisory Board, who released their survey in February, said school leaders told them the stress and pressures of dealing with the pandemic since its onset in March 2020 wore them down.
But the newly crowned “dean” of Butler County superintendents said sticking with the same job even through the historic tumult of the pandemic, has its advantages.
“I think the job of being a school superintendent is certainly a challenging one,” said Billy Smith, veteran leader of the 10,000-student Fairfield Schools.
“However, I would argue that being a school superintendent for a long stretch of time in the same district can lessen the challenge due to the fact that you have time to build relationships and trust with the entire school community,” said Smith, who with Fussnecker’s coming retirement now owns the longest stint as superintendent in the county.
In Ohio, superintendents are hired by publicly elected school boards who then oversee their employment contracts as well as their district leader’s daily operation of local public schools.
In most cases, the tenure of a local school leader can be shortened or ended with a simple majority of a five-member school board deciding to move on from a superintendent and paying them for the remainder of their employment contracts. Such employment terminations, however, are rare.
Longer employment for district leaders used to be more of the norm in past decades with Hamilton Schools Janet Baker’s tenure of nearly a quarter of a century before retiring in 2015 as the best local example of that former trend.
Smith, however, said “unfortunately, many school superintendents aren’t given the opportunity to serve for a long period of time.”