Di Chiro to retire next July

Ashland School District Superintendent Juli Di Chiro has formally announced her plan to retire after what will be 13 years in July 2013.

"Juli has been an exceptional superintendent "… I can't use another word to describe how she has fulfilled her role within the district," Ashland School District Board Chairwoman Carol Davis said.

Di Chiro, whose 39-year career in education included a 10-year stint as an elementary teacher in Los Angeles and various jobs as an administrator before landing in Ashland as superintendent, said she isn't focused on retiring.

"We have a full year ahead of us, a busy, exciting year," she said, on her way back to Ashland from a round of meetings in Eugene and Salem.

Di Chiro made it known to the board after signing her contract three years ago that it likely would be her last, Davis said. But finding her replacement won't be a simple hire.

"The board has a difficult task in front of us," Davis said. "She will leave incredibly difficult shoes to fill."

"I think it's time for me personally," Di Chiro said. "I've been working since I was 16 years old. I'm ready to take some time off."

During its July meeting, the board decided the Oregon School Boards Association would act as its search consultant in the process.

The board will host three community meetings to allow for input from citizens interested in helping with the selection. Their comments will help the board identify candidates during the search process, Davis said.

The meetings, all of which begin at 7 p.m., will be held Sept. 19 in the Walker Elementary cafeteria, 264 Walker Ave.; Sept. 20 at Ashland Middle School, 100 Walker Ave.; and Sept. 21 at Ashland High School, 201 S. Mountain Ave.

"Juli has provided outstanding leadership and has helped the district continue its traditions of excellence and innovation in instructional design, educational alternatives, and technology integration despite significant fiscal challenges," the school board wrote in a letter to the community.

In 2009, Di Chiro was named the Oregon Superintendent of the Year by the Oregon Association of School Executives.

"She's always been willing to make the hard decisions for the benefit of the district," Davis said. "When you have a superstar, it's incredibly hard to find someone to top it."

For more information on the upcoming selection process, visit http://www.ashland.k12.or.us/ and click on the "Superintendent Search" tab on the right side of the page.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.

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