July 24, 2014

Elyria
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Search begins for new Elyria superintendent

Paul Rigda

Paul Rigda

ELYRIA — Elyria school board member Kathryn Karpus will lead the search committee to find a successor to Superintendent Paul Rigda, who is retiring at the end of the 2014-15 school year, board members decided Wednesday.

Karpus said the district will contact the Ohio School Boards Association to handle the nationwide search.

“We want to develop a clear consensus on what Elyria Schools needs and wants,” she said, explaining why the search committee is forming a year before Rigda retires.

Rigda, superintendent for nine years, has long made it known he doesn’t plan to seek a contract renewal.

“Next year will be a transition year for me,” Rigda said. “It’s time for someone else to pick up the baton and run the next leg of the race for Elyria Schools.”

When Rigda accepted the job in 2005, he focused on improving the district’s test scores and student achievement, addressing problems with aging buildings including a new high school, stabilizing finances and building stronger relationships with the community. He feels he has done what he set out to do.

“The next person will not have to worry about what schools to close, how far to cut the staff, how to build a new high school or whether they will have the money to keep the lights on,” he said.

In the next year, Elyria Schools is not just losing Rigda. Treasurer Fred Stephens is retiring at the end of July and Business Manager Rich Nielson, who shepherded the construction of Elyria High from the first turn of shovel dirt to its grand opening, also is leaving.

After four years split between Oberlin and Lorain schools, Rigda came to the district in 1977 as a special-education teacher and work-study coordinator. He was principal of Edison School when it reopened as a center for students with special needs, and he was promoted to director of special education in 1985.

After eight years working in the central office, he spent three years as principal of Elyria West High School before being named director of government programs in 1996.

From 1998 to 2005, he served as the director of academic services for secondary education, overseeing curriculum development for high school students.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.