Wayne schools superintendent announces retirement

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By Lacie Pierson
The Herald-Dispatch

WAYNE -- Wayne County Schools Superintendent Lynn Hurt announced her retirement from the school system Tuesday evening at the Wayne County Board of Education meeting.

"It's just time," Hurt said to a meeting room full of citizens, who gave her a standing ovation at the end of her announcement. She'll leave the system at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Hurt said she still will be completely dedicated to ensuring the passage of an $18 million bond measure that will be on the May 2014 Primary Election ballot, which was approved by board members Tuesday.

In lieu of sharing too many personal details, Hurt, 62, said she simply wanted to spend time with her family.

"It's time for me to take care of my family," she said. "It has been one heck of a career, and I couldn't ask for a better place to work or better people to work with. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would get to lead this county even for just this short period of time."

Hurt also announced the retirements of Director of Elementary Education Debbie Russell and Director of Personnel Dinah Ledbetter, which also will go into effect June 30.

The three women have 100 years of experience among them, and it was time to turn over a new leaf in the county, Hurt said.

"It's just time. Sometimes that is just what it is," Hurt said. "It's time to go and time to bring younger people in who can be here for a long period of time."

Board President JoAnn Hurley suggested that Hurt, Russell and Ledbetter stay in the central office at least until new board of education members are elected, but she said she understood it was Hurt's time.

"Lynn has taken us in a new direction," Hurley said. "There' s no harder worker in this country than Lynn Hurt. She, Debbie Russell and Dinah Ledbetter, we all started at about the same time. I hope their retirement is like mine, because if it is, they'll be back about a month after."

"Lynn's had our support, and we've worked well together. If you stop and look where we've come from since this lady started, you'd be amazed."

Board Member Chris Dean also offered his praises to Hurt.

"One of the things about Lynn is that she got to cram a matter of five to 10 years into a matter of about 18 months," he said. "It has been a rocky, bumpy road since she came on board, and I think she's done a tremendous job."

Hurt has spent 40 years in public service.

She spent the first 15 years of her career as an officer with the Huntington Police Department before she earned her degree in education.

During her 25-year career in the school system, she served as the assistant principal at Tolsia and Spring Valley high schools, and she served as the principal at Tolsia, Dunlow Elementary School and Kenova Elementary School. She also taught in several schools throughout the county.

She was named superintendent a little more than one year ago in January 2013, and she was the first woman to hold the position. Prior to her appointment, Hurt served as assistant superintendent, director of elementary schools and director of middle schools and assessment.

Even though Hurt was looking forward to retirement, she noted Tuesday that there still is work to be done, specifically in terms of garnering support for the bond measure.

Taxpayers in Wayne County will pay for the $18 million sale and issuing of bonds, if the measure is approved by voters.

If the measure is passed, the West Virginia School Building Authority would match that amount, and the remaining funds would come from local funding and Qualified Zone Academy Bond funding. The total amount of money that could be raised from the measure is $42.2 million.

That money would be used to construct a new Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School, a new Crum pre-K through eighth-grade school and a multi-classroom extension and a renovation of the entryway at Wayne High School, all of which would be completed by July 2017.

With the bond measure in mind, Hurt said she was ready to work until the very end of her time with Wayne County Schools.

"Over the next five months, we're still going to be really busy," Hurt said after the meeting. "Moving forward is what we need to do. We've got a bond to pass, and we've got to keep that in mind. We've got buildings to build.

"It's not a matter of 'if,' it's a matter of 'when.'"