Dr. Jim Behle has been leading St. Michael-Albertville schools as its superintendent since 2010, but Monday evening he announced that his tenure will be coming to an end at the end of the school district’s fiscal year, June 30, 2016.
His upcoming retirement also marks the end of a 39-year career in education for Dr. Behle, where he has been a superintendent for 19 years- six of them in STMA-but also a teacher, guidance counselor, principal and associate superintendent.
“I speak on behalf of the entire school board to say we have not only enjoyed but also placed enormous trust in Dr. Behle,” board chair Doug Birk said during Monday evening’s board meeting. “The district has benefitted enormously from your leadership … it’s a great loss to the district.
If at any point you decide to change your mind, don’t forget to let us know,” Birk added with a laugh. “We wish you the very best as your move forward and onward.”
Behle said he and his wife recently made the decision that he would retire, and said their plans for retired life are thus far undetermined.
While he and his wife mull those decisions, the school board will be busy determining who will fill his shoes for the 2016-2017 school year and beyond. Though he will still serve as superintendent for over six more months, the process of selecting a new superintendent is lengthy, and a timeline is already being put together to hire a new superintendent in time for July 1.
“I would surmise that this is probably the number one thing that a school board does, or probably right at the top, in terms of its most important decisions,” Birk said.
The school board will discuss a process and timeline for finding a new superintendent at its Jan. 19 meeting.
As for Dr. Behle, when he looks back on the past six years leading St. Michael-Albertville schools, he said he’s most proud of being part of the district’s achievements, whether they be academic or activities-based.
“The strong leadership that’s here in the district has really made it both enjoyable and very productive in looking at ways we can best increase student achievement,” Behle said. “That’s really my goal, ultimately, is to make sure all students are achieving at the highest level, and I think we’ve been successful in that.”
Behle said it has been exciting to lead the district as it met its goal of ranking among the top 15 percent in the state for reading and math scores, as well as during times of success in athletics, activities and the arts.
“The district, when I came, was really first noted as the district that grew so fast,” Behle said. “People still ask about that, but now I think people talk about the district for its achievement academically and for the successes our students achieve statewide in activities.
It has been exciting to be part of families, children and youth, coaches and teachers,” he added. “That all contributes to the success of the district.”