Schools - January 12, 2011

Ken Ranella says it's his 'time to retire'

by Renee Batti

Expressing confidence that he is leaving behind "a culture that is committed to ongoing continuous improvement of all aspects of the district," Ken Ranella last week announced his retirement as superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District, effective June 30.

Hired to the top post in 2002, Mr. Ranella has overseen the planning and construction of new facilities on all four of the district's campuses, and the introduction of a number of academic programs, including Spanish immersion for the district's youngest students, and a new model for educating its most senior students, called the Hillview Academy.

"It is my time to retire. ... time to consider other personal and professional pursuits, time to explore myself outside of my long-term professional role and most importantly unencumbered time to fully engage with Ginny, my wife and best friend for over thirty-five years," Mr. Ranella said in a prepared statement.

The school board, which, according to Mr. Ranella, had been aware of his decision to retire for some time, will review proposals from three superintendent-search firms at its Jan. 18 meeting. The firms' representatives will be interviewed, and one will be chosen that night, he said.

The hiring process is expected to be completed in early spring, he said.

School board President Maria Hilton said the board will be looking for a new "chief executive who can keep us on the solid footing" that Mr. Ranella put the district on.

Ms. Hilton said her tenure as a district parent coincides exactly with Mr. Ranella's as superintendent, so she has come to know him well. "He's exceptional," she said, noting that she worked directly with him first as president of the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation, then as a board member for some five years.

During his nine years at the helm, Mr. Ranella has done an outstanding job consolidating the district's business and special education services, addressing an increasingly difficult financial situation, and developing a facilities plan to tackle the challenges of rapidly growing enrollment and aging buildings — "while always keeping his eye on what's important to learners," Ms. Hilton said.

With his retirement, Mr. Ranella will be wrapping up 36 years as an educator in public schools, 20 of which were in the role as superintendent in three districts, he noted.


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