Tonawanda News

August 30, 2012

Vantine says he's ready to retire

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Despite Whitney Vantine’s early retirement as City of Tonawanda Superintendent before his contract is up in 2014, he said Wednesday there is no hidden agenda or momentous reasoning that led to his decision. He’s just ready to retire. 

“I feel like this is the time,” Vantine said. “I turned 57 in June, and I’ve been in the business for 37 years. You get to the point where you just want to do things for your family and yourself.” 

Vantine announced his retirement at Tuesday night’s board meeting and talked with staff about his decision Wednesday morning. 

Vantine said he and his wife will likely stay in their Youngstown home after his last day, which is Oct. 17, to be close to their two children and other family members. 

“I have been thinking about this for a certain amount of time,” Vantine said. “I leave with no regrets. I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the district.” 

Vantine said his list of achievements include the capital project and relocation of Clint Small stadium, academic achievement, classroom technology upgrades and settling numerous contracts, as well as thinning out the administration staff by removing positions and reassigning employees.

“I reduced close to half a million dollars in administrative cost,” he said. 

Although the closing of the stadium was somewhat controversial, Vantine cited the vote for the project, which was 1,151 to 370 in its favor.

“Those numbers were way cool,” Vantine said. “It’s a wonderful legacy for the kids and generations down the road, not just the stadium, but new music suites and redeveloped land.”

But in the midst of all the successes, Vantine also noted challenges he has seen since being hired in July 2008 — and put emphasis on the declining enrollment at the district. 

The decisions that came as a result of those shrinking numbers put a stress on Vantine and the board, and he said the closing of Highland Elementary School in 2009 was difficult.

“I feel like we were correct in closing Highland, though we were going down that path for many years,” Vantine said.

Vantine said the district needs to start evaluating what the next step will be in managing the declining numbers, and said there are a number of options, including reconfiguring the district, moving the district to a single campus, and moving a grade from Fletcher Elementary to the Middle and High School complex. 

The board also needs to decide what to do with the vacant Central School facility. Vantine is putting together a community task force to discuss the next logical step, and said the board will fine tune the plan for its creation at the next board meeting Sept. 11 at Mullen Elementary. 

“There are all kinds of permeations that you can put together to move the district forward,” he said.

Board President Jackie Smilinich didn’t have any comment on Vantine’s time at the district, but said they will conduct a search for his replacement.

“We just have to move forward now,” she said.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.