Garrettsville – On March 22, James A. Garfield School District Superintendent Charles C. Klamer submitted his letter of resignation to school board president Guy Pietra. The school board is expected to accept Klamer’s resignation officially at its next regular meeting on April 11. When his resignation goes into effect on July 31, it will bring Klamer’s record-breaking 22 years as JAG superintendent to a close.
The longest-running school district superintendent in Portage County, Klamer still had one additional year left in a four-year contract he signed to in 2011. But, as he explained in his resignation letter, he now realizes it is time for family and “Chuck Time.”
Klamer explains further, “There comes a time that the passion, zest, intensity, excitement, interest and vision are not at the desired level! Simply, one runs out of gas. I have decided it is time to ‘trade’ my beloved James A. Garfield School family for my wife, children and grandchildren.”
“I will take many fond memories of the Garfield Schools with me as well as a heart of softness for many of the wonderful students and adults that we shared so much.”
When Klamer became JAG superintendent in 1991, he arrived on a chaotic scene where a lack of trust, a lack of transparency, and a lack of acceptance had been the general rule. The district was basically bankrupt, having accumulated heavy debt. The school levy had failed eight times already, and was about to go on the ballot for a ninth time.
Over his tenure, Klamer was able to pull the flailing school district from the brink of bankruptcy; oversee a successful tax levy that paved the way for the construction of a new middle school and a renovated high school; and guide the student body’s scholastic improvement so the district would reach (and repeat) the state’s highest rating for performance in standardized tests, attendance and graduation rates: Excellence with Distinction… all this despite the fact that JAG school district spends less per pupil annually than all but two other school districts in the county. (In 2005, Klamer retired, then was immediately rehired by the board at a lower $60,000 salary, saving the district about $90,000 over two years.)
“It’s been a wonderful, enjoyable ride with Chuck Klamer,” Pietra says of Klamer’s administration. “The condition of our schools and our buildings was very poor when Chuck came. He was able to turn things around because he always had a vision for the school district, and he always kept the kids as his number one priority, while keeping the strength of our communities in mind.”
Now comes the hard part — finding a new superintendent to fill the shoes of a man who knows every student by name, eats lunch with students in the cafeteria a couple times a week, and who successfully engages students, faculty, staff and community members with equal ease, Pietra says.
“The more I think about this thing, the more nervous I get,” Pietra admits. “It’s a tall task to find someone whose loyalty and engagement level with students and the community could even compare to the bar Chuck has set. He has done all the right things to make this a better school district. There probably isn’t a more caring or dedicated person out there.”