Each day brings Hilliard City Schools Superintendent Dale McVey closer to his last at the helm of the ninth-largest school district in Ohio.
McVey, 57, informed Hilliard school board members of his retirement, effective June 30, 2013, during an executive session Oct. 8.
He publicly announced his retirement plans three days later.
"Hilliard City Schools has been such a special place for me. I have met involved and caring parents, amazing students and the most talented staff I've ever known," McVey said.
The Hilliard school board is expected to formally accept McVey's retirement at its Oct. 22 meeting at Ridgewood Elementary School, 4237 Dublin Road.
"When it became public (Oct. 11), it was another reminder that it was real. It will happen again Oct. 22 when the board acts on my letter," said McVey, adding that he expects similar checkpoints along the way as he fulfills responsibilities and attends events as for the final time as superintendent.
"But I made it clear to my staff that this is October, not June," he said.
In the meantime, much remains to be accomplished, McVey said.
McVey said he expects to share some of the district's accomplishments, as well as future goals, in his final State of the Schools address scheduled Tuesday, Oct. 16, at the district's newest building, Bradley High School.
He credits his administrative staff and faculty for the district's accomplishments since he became superintendent in January 2000. He said a district's success "always comes back to the students."
He also noted he inherited a successful district from his successor, Superintendent Roger Nehls, who left Hilliard to become an assistant superintendent with the Ohio Department of Education.
"I inherited an incredibly well-run district ... and had a legacy on which to build," McVey said.
It is a legacy McVey will in turn hand off to another.
School board President Lisa Whiting said the board has not identified the process for selecting the next superintendent, "but will consider the interest of all stakeholders regarding this important decision."
"We are so grateful for Dale's knowledge and his ability to lead this district. ... We will have enormous shoes to fill," Whiting said.
Whiting has been a board member since 2007, but as a parent and PTO member, she knew McVey since he arrived at Hilliard .
"The ability to lead is as good as those who follow. Hilliard has been incredibly lucky as a community to have Dale as that leader ... helping our educators make children who will be our future leaders," Whiting said.
Doug Maggied is the only school board member who has worked with McVey during his entire tenure as superintendent.
Maggied said McVey developed a long-term plan for the district and knew that more teachers in classrooms, rather than additional administrative staff members, were the key to success.
"I think the future will show that Dale McVey has scribed a distinctive mark on our system," Maggied said.
Reflecting on his 15-year tenure with Hilliard schools, McVey recalled what a parent once said about the quality of the schools.
"A parent once said after a State of the Schools address that she wished her children, who were graduates, could be in school today for the opportunities that did not exist then. There are no greater compliments then that," McVey said.
McVey was hired in 1998 as the district's assistant superintendent and was named interim superintendent when Nehls resigned in June 1999.
He initially passed on the school board's offer to accept the job, but as the board began to search outside the district for a superintendent, McVey reconsidered and became superintendent in 2000.
Prior to joining Hilliard schools, McVey was superintendent of the Licking Heights district in Pataskala from 1994 to 1998.
He was a building principal at Lebanon City Schools from 1987 to 1994, a principal at Clinton-Massie Local Schools from 1985 to 1987 and an assistant principal at Northeastern Local Schools from 1984 to 1985.
McVey taught at Mason City Schools and East Clinton Local Schools from 1978 to 1985, after earning an undergraduate degree at Xavier University. McVey also has a master's degree from Xavier.
Since McVey's arrival at Hilliard schools in 1998, Hilliard's enrollment has grown from 12,000 to nearly 15,700 students this year.
McVey is credited with initiating the district's 2020 Plan, an initiative that engaged faculty, students and the community to create a strategic vision for the district, setting expectations and a vision for a 21st-century education in Hilliard schools, said district spokeswoman Amanda Morris.
McVey supervised the opening of three elementary schools, Tharp Sixth Grade School and Bradley High School, and he negotiated five contracts with the district's two employee associations, participated in six redistricting efforts and guided the augmentation of district curriculum.
Hilliard is expected to obtain a grade of "Excellent with Distinction," when the Ohio Department of Education releases final state report cards later this month.
It is the highest possible grade from the ODE and would be the fifth consecutive year Hilliard has received the score.
McVey's final responsibilities will be to oversee the opening of the district's Innovative Learning Center at the current administrative offices.
A key component of the 2020 Plan, the Innovative Learning Center is designed to provide educational opportunities to students of all needs in the district. It will feature online learning opportunities and classes, as well as providing tutoring for at-risk or challenged students and enrichment programs for the district's talented and gifted students.