Former Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dr. Gene Harris thanked the Columbus community on Friday for support during her tenure as leader of Columbus City Schools.
She issued the following statement by email on Friday:
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the privilege I have had to serve the students, staff and this community as Superintendent of Columbus City Schools for the past 12 years. I have met and worked with many wonderful people. This District and the community are truly unique, where the partnerships are strong and the support for our schools is steadfast; I am proud of our community, and of our District.
Together we have addressed difficult issues, and made difficult choices, but always with the interests of our students foremost in our thinking. I smile with great pride when I reflect on the accomplishments Columbus City Schools has made with your relentless support. The strong backing of the Columbus community led to the passage of two operating levies and two bond issues, while at the same time cutting and restraining budget growth by nearly $200 million over the course of my tenure. We have created partnerships with higher education institutions in the area including The Ohio State University, Ohio University, Franklin, DeVry, Columbus State Community College and Otterbein that have afforded our students the opportunity to go to college, tuition free, while in high school. We have laid the ground work for more pre-school programming and we restructured our middle schools to better mirror the national middle school model. We implemented new programming that has produced success: the International High School, and Columbus City Prep for Boys and Girls schools. Each has performed, in their early years, beyond our expectations!! Our 25- year partnership with I Know I Can, which has been strengthened in the last several years, has opened many doors for our young people. We have put systems in place to continue steady academic progress to further enrich the educational experiences of our children, and to continue to move our District forward in helping all students become empowered for success as citizens in a global community. And the building program is on a firm foundation: 39 new or completely renovated schools, replacing old worn out buildings, with three more on schedule to open this coming fall!
I am confident that with the collaboration of interim superintendent Dr. Dan Good, the mayor, the unprecedented involvement of the business community, and the gifts of our very talented and dedicated staff, together will catapult the District into its next level of achievement.
The students and the people in the District have been my inspiration and shining light. This is a 24/7, 365-day-per-year job, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’m honored to have served students for 37 years and in this District for 35 of them. It has meant the world to me to be able to give back to a school district that laid the foundation for my life – my love for learning – and for who I am today. It’s a gift that most people never experience.
Thank you so much for all you have contributed to our successes and growth of Columbus City Schools. It has been a great honor to have had the opportunity to give back to a school district and a community that has given me so much over my lifetime.
My best to you always,
Dr. Gene Harris
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