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Schools superintendent Nichols resigns

May 31, 2007|By TAMELA BAKER

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent R. Steven Nichols confirmed Thursday that he has resigned to accept a superintendent's position in Staunton, Va.

Nichols' resignation is effective June 30.

The Staunton position offered "a very nice opportunity at the right time," Nichols said, but added, "I enjoy my work here very much."

Leaving Jefferson County is "one of the hardest career decisions I've ever made," he said.

Nichols has served as Jefferson County superintendent for five years, a period that saw the system's student population grow by nearly 1,000 students, according to a Jefferson County Schools news release.

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During that time, a school construction bond was passed, funds were secured for renovation of the current high school and construction of a new high school, and impact fee legislation was approved, the release noted. Several academic achievements, including a middle school honors program and a 20 percent higher number of graduating seniors going to college, were made the release said.

One regret, Nichols told The Herald-Mail, is that "I would love to have been able to make teachers' salaries competitive in the region." Nichols said some progress on teachers' salaries has been made, "but there's still an awful lot left to do."

Nichols came to Jefferson County from Fairfax County, Va. "It's been a wonderful experience," he said. "There's never a good time to leave."

The Staunton position offered an opportunity to spend more time on curriculum development since the system is experiencing "more measured growth" than Jefferson County, he said. And "the people there are wonderful," he added.

School Board Vice President Alan Sturm said Nichols told board members he was negotiating with another system, so his resignation wasn't a surprise. "I think that the school system hates to lose him," he said. "It'll be hard to replace him."

But Sturm said he recognized Nichols had "personal and professional reasons for returning to Virginia." The board has not yet made plans for searching for a new superintendent, he added.

"The real downside, besides losing him, is it's not the best time of year to go into a search," Sturm said, noting that because of the time of year, "we can only offer a one-year contract."

Nichols said his successor would find the system in good order. "I can honestly say we're leaving the school system in very good shape" both financially and academically, he said.

"I really would just like to let everyone know that my success is due to an awful lot of people," Nichols added, including teachers, staff and the school board. "And I'm grateful to the citizens of Jefferson County for trusting me with their children."

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