By William Kincaid
Superintendent Eugene Linton has announced his retirement from the Mercer County Educational Service Center, effective at the end of the year.
"It was the best move I could have made at the time," Linton said about joining the ESC over 10 and a half years ago. "It's been a pleasurable job. It fit my skills so well. It was a really good fit."
Linton said he's been hired elsewhere, but would not release where until his employment is made official in the next few days.
Linton and his wife Michelle, a school psychologist for the Auglaize County ESC, will be moving away from Mercer County, he said. However, his wife will remain in the area until the summer, when her job is complete.
According to Linton, the Mercer County ESC board will hire a temporary interim -- probably a retired administrator. He said it could take months before a new superintendent is hired. Linton's current salary is $94,474 a year.
Throughout the years, Linton said many people have asked him how Mercer County students perform so well in both academics and athletics.
"It's the parents," he says. "There are just some outstanding families in Mercer County."
And Linton himself has achieved much. Through his work, the function of the Mercer County ESC has altered.
In the past, Linton said the ESC was a throwback, as it even hired the local schools' superintendents. Now the ESC is a non-regulatory organization, he said, as it offers a multitude of services. The center also is entrepreneurial. In order to be efficient and save its subscribing schools further overhead charges, the ESC offers its services and workshops to out of area schools.
Through Linton's supervision and organization, the ESC has incorporated many innovative and needed services for its subscribing schools: an afterschool program, American Sign Language class, alternative school for suspended students and those at risk of not graduating high school, curriculum services, professional development, a preschool handicap program, a schoolage handicap program, psychological services, contracted employees and a gifted education program.
Linton said he will miss working with the ESC board and his staff -- who except for one employee, were all hired by Linton.
"It's been phenomenal to work with the board from day one," he said. "They're very representative of all the people in Mercer County."
Linton also said he throws his hat off to all the local superintendents.
"It's the toughest job in education," he said. "You do everything. It's so hard and demanding, you never have time for yourself. You're always on call."