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KISD Superintendent announces retirement plans

Departure scheduled for Dec. 31; board to consider search process

Grand Rapids – Kent Intermediate School District (ISD) Superintendent Ron Caniff announced this week his intent to retire from Kent ISD at the end of the calendar year, capping more than 36 years in education with the challenge of opening schools this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The privilege of serving as superintendent of Kent ISD has been a true honor and the highlight of my career,” Caniff said in his letter to the board. “The timing of my departure – the end of December – will allow us to get what will assuredly be a challenging start-up to the school year behind us and, hopefully, by the time I leave a sense of normal operations returns.”

Caniff was appointed Kent ISD superintendent in July 2015. During his tenure, Kent ISD passed an enhancement millage to bring additional resources to its 20 member districts, assumed all operations and accountability for the ISD-wide special education center programs from the Grand Rapids Public Schools, expanded adult education opportunities throughout West Michigan and invested deeply in diversity, equity and inclusion leadership and training for Kent ISD staff and the superintendents of the Kent Intermediate Superintendents’ Association.

“Although I am very excited over the new chapter that awaits me in retirement, I will miss the daily interactions with the staff of Kent ISD. I have tremendous respect and appreciation for the talented and dedicated team members I’ve worked with at Kent ISD, both now and prior years,” Caniff said, adding that he will also miss working alongside the leaders of the school districts within Kent ISD.

Kent ISD Board President Andrea Haidle thanked Caniff for his service. She said the challenges he faced were among the most daunting of any superintendent with whom she has worked.

“Transitioning the entire special education center program from Grand Rapids Public Schools to Kent ISD was an overwhelming task,” Haidle said, “and the challenge of operating Kent ISD and serving member districts during this pandemic was enormous. We all owe Ron our gratitude for his devotion to the organization, and the children and families we serve, during these difficult times.”

Haidle said board members will need some time to chart out a process for hiring a search firm and gathering input from stakeholders on the characteristics most desired in a new leader for Kent ISD.

“Selecting a new superintendent is the most important decision this board will make during the next school year,” she said. “We plan to take our time and get this right. We will release details as we work though some of the procedural issues over the next couple of months.”

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Ray Winnie
Kent County Credit Union


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