TIFFIN– Dr. Denise Schares, superintendent of the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district announced her pending retirement, effective June 30.
“It’s a transition point, and I think for the district, it’s a good time to bring somebody in on this really, really tremendous opportunity and challenge of enrollment growth,” Schares said.
Schare’s resignation was approved, albeit with regret, by the school board of directors at their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Middle School. Schares was hired to replace Dr. Paula Vincent in 2010 after Vincent resigned to take a position with the Heartland Area Education Agency, based in Johnston.
A native of Hudson, Schares has spent over 30 years in education both in the classroom and administratively. Now however, she said it is time to be with her family.
“It’s just a good time for us to be together again. During the week we live separately, our 35th wedding anniversary is in June, and all either of us want to do is live together again. And I think that’s a really good thing,” Schares said to smiles and laughter.
She also reflected on her CCA family and her time as superintendent. “It’s been a great experience for me. Someone asked if I’d do it all over again, I told them, ‘in a minute.’ We’ve had our challenges but the rewards far outweigh the challenges we’ve experienced.”
An emotional board president Eileen Schmidt made her feelings known. “Denise, you’ve been an asset to this school district, you’ve taken this district very, very far. You’re work has been greatly appreciated,” said Schmidt.
Schares said she came in and continued on a great journey. She put the emphasis on the people of CCA. “I tell everybody this has to be the best school district in the state, maybe the Midwest, maybe the whole country. And, it’s the people. It’s the people that work together for the benefit of the kids, and ask good questions of one another, and hold one another to a high standard,” said Schares.
Saying that the district is in a good place and she was pleased to be a part of it, Schares said she feels the board will have no shortage of applicants for her position.
The process for gathering and sifting through those applications was the topic of a brief discussion. In 2010, Dr. David Else and his firm Else, Rice, Bisgard Associates was contracted to conduct a superintendent search and do preliminary evaluations of candidates for $8,100. Dr. Else and company met with students, administration, teachers, support staff, the board and a gathering of community members in an effort to pinpoint the most important qualities with which to evaluate applicants. The firm whittled down a stack of 60-70 applicants and presented the board with 22 possibilities. From there, the board narrowed it down to four candidates, who were brought in for meet-and-greet events with the community and the ultimate decision by the board.
“The process is tedious, to no end,” board member Aimee Pitlick said, “and there is absolutely no way any of us have the amount of time it takes to sift it down, and go through the resumés, and go through the qualifications, and to do the background checks.” She said she was impressed with the job Dr. Else did in bringing highly qualified candidates to the board. “We didn’t do a lot of the work, but by the end of April, I was exhausted,” Pitlick added.
The goal is to begin the search immediately and have a new superintendent in place on July 1. Board secretary Lori Robertson was directed to contact various search firms. Robertson, Schares, Schmidt, board vice-president Rick Hergert, and the school administrators will evaluate proposals from the firms and make a recommendation to the board at the next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, March 6, at Amana Elementary. It is anticipated that a representative of the firm will be present to formally begin the search.