When the new school year starts in less than two weeks, it’ll be the last for Columbia County School Superintendent Charles Nagle.
Nagle, who is beginning his sixth year in the position, announced his retirement Thursday at the school system Principals’ Conference.
After 37 years in education, Nagle will step down on June 30 at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
“Thirty-seven years is a long time to give to public service,” he said. “I feel that while I’m still healthy, I would like to be able to spend more time with my family.”
Since 1989, Nagle has been an administrator or teacher in Columbia County schools. Before becoming superintendent in 2007, he served as an associate superintendent in the county for eight years.
“To be able to be a superintendent in a school system like Columbia County is very humbling,” Nagle said. “It’s an awesome responsibility.”
School Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said she was on the board when Nagle was chosen to lead the school system.
“We saw in him then the potential to lead us forward, and I think he’s done an excellent job with that,” she said.
While Nagle noted that the school system has faced some challenging times, with issues such as state budget cuts and larger class sizes, test scores in county schools have continued to increase, he said.
“We’ve struggled through the economy, but we’ve always been able to come out on top,” Nagle said.
His first priority, Nagle said, has been the instruction of pupils, but he also believes strongly that educators should be protected.
“I just think everything should be cut before you cut employees,” Nagle said.
Buccafusco said that Nagle’s devotion to education, and pupils, has always shined through.
“What’s best for students,” she said, “that’s always been his mantra.
“That’s why I think the board was so much behind him all these years. There’s no ego involved in it. It’s all just a love for what he’s doing.”
Nagle said he cherishes the relationships he’s built among pupils, parents and school system employees throughout his career.
Nagle also commended the school board for their support.
“Our school board is very knowledgeable, and know and love education,” he said. “They’re there because they care about education, not because they want to be a politician, which makes our board unique.”
That board will be tasked with finding an replacement for Nagle. The members were notified of Nagle’s decision to retire during a closed session of Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Buccafusco said she and other members have begun discussing when to start the search process.
“I think the search is going to take a good bit,” she said. “Many, many people would like to come work with us.
“It’s something we take seriously as a board.”
Though Nagle may be retiring as superintendent, he said he plans to continue working in some capacity, possibly doing consulting work or speaking to groups.
He’ll also enjoy being with family and watching games in a more relaxed setting, he said.
“I’m looking so forward to spending time with my children and my grandchildren,” he said. “That’s very important to me.”