After initially taking the position in January 2014 on an interim basis following the resignation of Rick Earley, Jim Smith attended his last Hillsboro City Schools board meeting as superintendent Wednesday night after more than three years on the job.
During the search for Earley’s replacement, board members decided they couldn’t do better than the longtime educator who had stepped in to temporarily captain the ship, and Smith was installed as permanent superintendent in March 2014.
Earlier this year, the board announced that Smith would be retiring July 31. Tim Davis, intermediate school principal and a 1997 Hillsboro High School graduate, will step in as superintendent effective Aug. 1.
Three years ago, Smith said making the job permanent was not something he had initially considered.
“I was not a candidate,” Smith told The Times-Gazette at the time. “It was not a plan I had.”
On Wednesday, Smith thanked the board, the community, his coworkers and the students for making his tenure productive and enjoyable.
Smith mentioned several construction projects that are wrapping up this summer, including a major blacktop undertaking, a new road at the elementary building, tennis court asphalt work, completing the parking lot at the new Barnhouse Center, and a major paver project involving more than 4,500 bricks. Smith credited building and grounds chief Dean Armstrong for driving many of the projects.
Smith has served more than 40 years in education. He spent several years at the helm at Bethel-Tate, where the school was rated “Excellent” for three years and was rated “Excellent with Distinction” during Smith’s final year there.
When he took the Hillsboro job, he said the school was “financially stable,” and wanted to make sure it maintained that condition. On Wednesday, treasurer Ben Teeters reported that the district has a balance of $14.3 million on hand.
Board president Bill “Buck” Myers thanked Smith for his service, saying, “It’s been a tremendous opportunity to work with you and be around you.” He commended Smith for his “professionalism,” and “multiple improvements” at the school during Smith’s tenure.
In other business in a relatively light agenda, the board
• Authorized Teeters to do a transfer each month of $50,000 into the Program Improvement Fund.
• Approved a one-year contract with DataServ for technology network maintenance.
• Approved a contract with Haugland Learning Center for services in the autism unit at the intermediate pod of Hillsboro Elementary, with Smith saying the district is not able to find autism teachers locally, and “this is not an easy unit.”
• Extended an amendment to a contract with Highland District Hospital for an automatic renewal each year for training and rehab services.
• Approved numerous classified, certificated, sub-certificated, supplemental contracts, resignations, retirements and leaves of absence.
• Heard Smith discuss an equipment auction scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at Southern State Community College, where the school is partnering with SSCC, noting that a couple of old school buses are among the items being put up for auction.
• Heard board member Tom Milbery applaud the services provided by the food truck that serves lunches to students throughout the summer.
• Heard board member Beverly Rhoads report on activities of the Great Oaks career development board, on which she sits, and an annual conference she attended in Columbus.
• Heard board member Larry Lyons discuss three local teachers who were nominated for public education honors but were not chose, but who he wants to recognize at a future meeting.
• Heard board member Doug Ernst report on a recent Finance Committee meeting, and say that there is “a lot of enthusiasm and pride in the community over improvements we’re doing,” adding that he believes the district will “follow up with academic improvements.”
The board ended the meeting by adjourning into executive session to discuss an issue involving the dismissal of an employee. Smith said no action would be taken following the session.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.