Brown Local School District's board of education accepted the resignation of Superintendent Connie Griffin with mixed emotions at the board's March 27 meeting.
Griffin, who has superintended the district for 18 years, will head into a planned retirement at the end of this week.
She has spent 38 years in education. Twenty-one of those years have been at Brown Local, which she joined as an elementary school principal. But her experience with the district actually began during her childhood years.
"I can't believe in 1963 I started here as a scrawny first-grader. My mother put me on the bus. I got to school. I was fine. And then I missed the bus home, and the football coach had to take me home," she joked, adding, "I've come a way since then."
"I've had a very, very rewarding career. I don't want to get emotional, but I'm pretty excited for the next chapter," Griffin commented. "I'm really going to miss a lot of people."
Griffin said that, of the milestones during her term, she is most proud of the district's new school building on Coral Road, which opened just before the school year began.
"For me, the most rewarding thing is to see how well the kids have responded and how they're better able to use technology and to really learn in a way that is beneficial to them," she told the board.
"The environment is just much brighter and safer. One of the kids, the beginning of the year, his comment was, 'I didn't like to come to school, but I love to come to school now.'"
Griffin told The News Leader that she had planned to retire this past January but postponed the decision in order to address mid-year staff transitions and complete work to keep the district in compliance with changing state requirements.
She added that she had also hoped to complete a new contract with the Malvern Education Association, which represents the district's teaching staff, but she said negotiations are still pending.
"That's disheartening for me because I really would have liked for that piece to be complete," she admitted, noting that mediation talks are scheduled for early April.
Griffin said the availability of meeting dates from union representatives "was limited, and between that and the volume of information we needed to work through, it made it difficult to make progress quickly. We've made progress, but not...quickly."
Negotiations with the union will now become one of the responsibilities of middle/high school principal Scott Bowling, whom the board unanimously approved as interim superintendent effective April 1 through July 31 of this year.
"I'm very excited to be handing the reigns to Scott. He's got great leadership skills. I don't think the district will falter at all. I think you'll see great things happening," Griffin remarked.
"The team (Connie) put together for administration and the rest of the staff is phenomenal," said Bowling, who said he looks forward to taking on his new position.
Tim Babiczuk, who has served as the district's elementary school principal, will lead the high school as its new principal. Bowling said he and Babiczuk are working to hire a new elementary school principal as well as fill other open positions for teaching staff.
In other business, the board:
APPROVED the following certified substitutes for the 2016-17 school year: Alexander Atkinson, Caleb Bettis, Abigail Ellis, Zackary Felton, James Foradas, Karin Heidy, Leisa Johnson, Christina McCarthy, Brittany Rocano, David White III and Jocelyn Zeedrich
APPROVED Martin Clark as a classified substitute for the 2016-17 school year.
APPROVED Jeff Lambert in the classified position of bus driver for the 2016-17 school year effective Feb. 15 of this year.
APPROVED a supplemental contract for Seth Goshorn in boys track for the 2016-17 school year.
APPROVED the following for the 2016-2017 school year: Seth Goshorn, after-school tutoring; and academic assist activities for Melanie Koch, Alyson Lutz, Stephanie McNutt, Stephanie Roudebush, Tiffanie Pyles, Jessica Simms, and Tami Warner.
ACCEPTED the resignation of Cameron Ruff from boys track effective Feb. 17 of this year.
APPROVED the following certified positions for the 2017-18 school year: Julie Fairless, middle/high school choral music effective Aug. 1, 2017; and Thomas Betsa, high school math effective Aug. 1, 2017.
RENEWED, for a period of three years, Lavern Davenport as food service supervisor; Doug Wackerly as maintenance supervisor; Rod Wise as transportation supervisor; and Dawn Kaufman as curriculum director.
APPROVED the 2017-18 school calendar.
APPROVED the fifth-grade class's field trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh on May 17 of this year.
APPROVED a donation of labor from Mark Brahler and the Brahler Family for the school's fine arts and music display cases, which Mark built by hand.
APPROVED a donation of $575 to the district's athletic department in memory of Florence Richards from the family and friends of Florence Richards.
HELD an executive session to discuss pending negotations and personnel matters. No action was taken.