Longtime Rockford Public Schools superintendent retiring

Kent County

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The longtime superintendent of Rockford Public Schools is retiring at the end of the year.

In a letter to the Rockford Public Schools Board of Education Friday, Superintendent Mike Shibler, Ph.D., says he intends to retire, effective Dec. 31. Shibler noted he planned on retiring before the COVID-19 pandemic but felt compelled to stay as superintendent during the unprecedented times.

“My philosophy has always been finish strong, whatever you do, finish strong. And I will do that,” Shibler told News 8. “I’m not going to be a lame duck, I made it clear to the administrative team when I met with them today about my decision, that I’m going to be the superintendent of Rockford Public Schools today all the way through the end of the day on December.”

The 74-year-old has led the district for more than 32 years and has been an educator in Michigan for more than 53 years.

He wants to stay on to get the next school year kicked off and underway, including seeing the continuation of the district’s current strategic plan, the 11th plan he’s overseen.

He told News 8 he thinks its important his successor is focused on communication.

“The bottom line is this new person is going to have to be totally focused on open, transparent, candid communication with their constituents, their parents, students, staff and so forth,” Shibler said. “And as far as I’m concerned there’s no substitute for that.”

After he retires, Shibler plans to travel and pursue other personal interests as well as remain part of the Rockford community.

The full notice of retirement:

“As you know, I will reach the respectable age of 75 in September this year. In my lifetime, I have been privileged to serve as an educator in the State of Michigan for 53-1/2 years and honored to serve as your superintendent of schools for the past 32-1/2. Because my years serving the Rockford Public Schools and community have been the most rewarding of my career, it is bittersweet that I submit to you my intent to
retire effective December 31, 2021.

“Just before the COVID pandemic, I was considering retirement. However, when the pandemic hit, I felt compelled to carry out my duties during very uncertain times to provide consistent and ongoing leadership, with my priority being the implementation of safe protocols so students and staff could return to the 2020-21 school year. I believe, together, we succeeded. As you know, my cabinet and the RPS administrative team have consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership revealing their true grit. I have never been more confident in the direction our district is moving and the leaders we have in place to make it happen. This makes me feel very comfortable with my decision to retire. In addition, Governor Whitmer recently announced that most COVID safety protocols will be lifted effective June 22, 2021, so I am hopeful the 2021-22 school year will be reminiscent of a more normal routine.

“On a personal note, I’m looking forward to the flexibility retirement offers. In my role as Superintendent of Schools, the demands on my time are many. Retirement will allow me to pursue travel and other personal interests I’ve not been able to previously enjoy as well as to devote more time to my loved ones. I plan to remain a part of the Rockford community and I look forward to seeing the RPS continue to flourish under the guidance of the Board of Education and through the hard work and dedication of its
employees. Rockford has been a huge part of my life and will always be a part of who I am.

“In addition to providing direction for the opening of the 2021-22 school year, I also want to facilitate the development and completion of the district’s eleventh strategic plan for continuous improvement, RAMS XI. Planning will take place this summer with a recommendation for Board of Education approval in December.

“As my retirement date nears, I will have more to say regarding the extraordinary people I have had the opportunity to know and work with for the past 32 years but, for now, I respectfully ask that the Board of Education accept my retirement as Superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools effective, December 31, 2021.”

Michael S. Shibler, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools

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