Gary Meier Announces Retirement from Ferndale Schools

Gary Meier Announces Retirement from Ferndale Schoolspride2014ad

(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 20, 2014)

After 14 years as Superintendent of Ferndale Schools, Gary Meier has announced that he is retiring.

In a memo to Ferndale Schools staff, Meier wrote:

“It is with many mixed emotions that I write this letter to formally advise you of my intention to retire as Superintendent of the Ferndale Public Schools, effective June 30, 2014.  I want to assure the school community that our dedicated Board of Education will act quickly to establish a succession plan and initiate JudyPalmer01a search for the next superintendent of the Ferndale Schools.  I will work with them to support a smooth transition.

“I have learned so much in my 33-year career, but the most fulfilling era of my career has been the 14 years serving the Ferndale Schools.  I have celebrated so many outstanding successes of our students, faculty, and community, while also managing challenges and even tragedy.  Each of these experiences has provided opportunities to learn and grow, not only for myself, but for my colleagues and the community.  I am proud of our staff for the work they do in behalf of our students and feel honored to have worked with so dinos02sidelogo3many dedicated and committed administrators and staff.  Ferndale Schools and the Ferndale community could not have been a better capstone to my career in public education.

“As I plan my retirement, I want to express my appreciation to the many extraordinary members of our school community who have demonstrated a passion and commitment to the Ferndale Schools that will surely continue to serve students so well.  I especially wish to thank those who joined me in ensuring the success of the Restructuring Plan, two Bond projects that have transformed our infrastructure, and the launch of University High School.  These projects, in particular, make me most proud of what we have accomplished together in behalf of the students of the Ferndale Schools.

“As I plan the next phase of my life, I want you to know how much I appreciate the wonderful opportunity I havegallowaycollens1 had to serve the Ferndale school community.”

School Board President Jim O’Donnell spoke of Meier’s announcement, stating “On hearing of Superintendent Gary Meier’s planned retirement, effective June 30, 2014, the school board thanks him for his 14 years of dedicated service to our students and schools. On behalf of the board, I express my appreciation for the many successes he presided over, for his collaboration with the board on its strategic and policy work, and for his fortitude and sensibilities on the many tough issues faced by public educators today.”

The School Board of Trustees will make plans moving forward in a search for a new Superintendent.  O’Donnell said, “In this time of transition, I assure the community that we will work proactively to fill the position of Superintendent with the best possible candidate to serve our district. At its regular meeting on Monday, March 24, the board will begin the process of structuring a search for a new superintendent. The essentialboard will work with staff, unions and the community in an inclusive manner to define the critical skills and abilities for the superintendent position. We acknowledge that we will conduct this search at a critically busy time of district calendars and will be judicious in expenditures during the search process.”

O’Donnell said that “There is no separate severance agreement. The provisions of the 2011 contract govern the settlement of unused vacation and sick days upon retirement. The per diem value for the unused days was specified in the recent contract amendment that reduced compensation.”

Several top administrators have left over the past year, including Communications Director Stephanie HowesLocationHall, Deputy Superintendent Henry Gold,  Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Barb Evoe.

While working as Superintendent, Meier also owned a private consulting company called Innovative Consulting Education (ICE), which worked with charter schools. ICE and Ferndale Schools had a contractual relationship where Meier and other administrators were able to use district resources to work on ICE projects in exchange for a fee.  The potential conflict of interest was a major issue in the 2012 School Board elections, resulting in four new Ferndale School Trustees being elected.  At the end of 2012 Meier terminated the arrangement.

In 2014 longtime Trustee and Board President Chuck Moeser resigned from the Board to enjoy his retirement, and Jennifer LaTosh was appointed to fill his seat.

Ferndale Schools faces significant challenges as it moves ahead, particularly in the area of funding.  Unions have been taking pay cuts to make up for deficits caused by lower-than-expected enrollment and cuts in state funding.

This story will be updated as more information is available.

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