Bellaire Schools Won’t Renew Contract of Superintendent Darrin Jenkins
BELLAIRE — The Bellaire Local School District soon will search for a new superintendent with the coming departure of Darren Jenkins.
Jenkins confirmed that he will not return for the 2021-22 school year. His last day will be July 31.
“Simply put, the majority of the Board of Education no longer desires my services and no longer wants me to serve as district superintendent,” Jenkins said, adding that the board approved a separation agreement.
According to a copy of the board of education meeting minutes from Feb. 26, the board unanimously accepted Jenkins’ resignation and approved the separation agreement.
“A non-renewal (of a contract) is not the same thing as being fired or in education terms ‘terminated.’ In order to be ‘fired’ or ‘terminated’ a Board has to have ’cause’ as defined in Ohio Revised Code. There was no cause for termination,” Jenkins explained. “A non-renewal is the board simply deciding not to renew an employment contract for another term.
“Yes, I would agree that the majority of the Board did not want me to return as superintendent,” he added. “However, they also didn’t abide by some of the provisions of my contract, evaluation for example. I had never been evaluated since I came here as my contract requires. So in order to avoid a potential dispute over issues, the board and I reached a separation agreement. Part of that agreement was me submitting a resignation.”
During his tenure in Bellaire, Jenkins helped the district work through difficult financial times that began in 2009 when it was placed on emergency fiscal status by the Ohio Joint Fiscal Oversight Commission. The district finally emerged from its emergency fiscal status in 2017 after seeing more than $5 million in cuts during a seven-year period. During that time, control of the district’s finances and personnel decisions were all ultimately controlled by the commission instead of by the board of education.
“Once we were released from fiscal emergency in April 2017, we were able to turn our attention to the educational program of the district,” Jenkins said. “During the period of state fiscal oversight, this district was simply in survival mode. With the passage of the emergency operating levy in May 2017, we were able to begin a measured restoration of student programs and address instructional issues.”
Jenkins also helped the district get another tax levy approved by voters during this past November’s general election. Voters renewed a 3-mill levy and approved an additional 1-mill levy, which replaced a 0.5-mill levy that was expiring.
The tax levy money is being used for maintenance of buildings, textbooks, computers and school buses. It also will help the district repair the high school’s clock tower that is in poor condition.
Jenkins noted that once the district was able to gain its financial footing and pass levies, the school system could begin to blossom again.
“Once that was accomplished and we could concentrate on teaching and learning again, our scores on state accountability measures have risen each year for three consecutive years. Both were not accomplished alone, instead only with the support and hard work of a committed staff. The community has reason to be proud,” he said.
“Additionally, no one thought it was possible or foresaw our ability to have our own baseball facility, a new physical education facility with a turf practice field and the other facility upgrades such as remodeling the middle and high school gyms and working on the softball infield.
“In case the community thinks we have spent all of our money on athletics, it’s not so. We have upgraded our technology backbone in the district and we now have Chromebook personal computers for each student.”
During the current school year, Jenkins helped to implement the district’s plan to bring students back into the classroom during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have enjoyed my time in Bellaire and meeting people in this great community,” he said. “I have enjoyed experiencing their pride in this community and school system. While this school system is very different than it was a generation ago, very good things are happening here and Bellaire Schools have a bright future.”
Jenkins was hired as superintendent of the district in 2015 after serving as interim superintendent and treasurer. He replaced former superintendent Tony Scott, who was retiring.
Prior to coming to Bellaire, Jenkins served as superintendent at the Northwest Ohio Educational Services Center. He has been in the education business for about 35 years in total.
In 2019, Jenkins was recognized as the Outstanding Administrator at the Ohio Board Association’s Southeast Region Fall Conference.
Jenkins noted that he is exploring all of his options for when his employment ends at Bellaire.
Board of Education President Bill Marinelli said Jenkins would be missed by the school district, which is better because of his leadership.
Marinelli said the board of education plans to have the position filled sometime during June.
“We are working aggressively to find the right fit. Postings will be out by the end of the month,” he said.