Kent ISD superintendent to retire at end of year

Ron Caniff Courtesy Kent Intermediate School District

Kent Intermediate School District Superintendent Ron Caniff intends to retire Dec. 31 after submitting his letter of resignation to the Kent ISD Board of Education earlier this week.

He has spent the last five years serving as Kent ISD’s superintendent, and his retirement will mark the end of his 36-year career in the education system.

Currently, Caniff oversees more than 108,000 students in 20 public school districts, 23 public school academies, and the Christian and Catholic schools in the region.

“The privilege of serving as superintendent of Kent ISD has been a true honor and the highlight of my career,” Caniff said in his letter to the board. “The timing of my departure — the end of December — will allow us to get what will assuredly be a challenging startup to the school year behind us and, hopefully, by the time I leave, a sense of normal operations returns.”

During his tenure, Kent ISD was able to pass an enhanced millage to bring additional resources to its 20-member district. The school district assumed all operations and accountability for the ISD-wide special education center programs from the Grand Rapids Public Schools in 2018 and expanded adult education opportunities throughout West Michigan, among other things.

“Transitioning the entire special education center program from Grand Rapids Public Schools to Kent ISD was an overwhelming task,” said Andrea Haidle, Kent ISD board president. “And the challenge of operating Kent ISD and serving member districts during this pandemic was enormous. We all owe Ron our gratitude for his devotion to the organization and the children and families we serve during these difficult times.”

Prior to assuming the role of Kent ISD superintendent, Caniff was the superintendent of the Grandville Public Schools for 12 years and served three years before that as superintendent of Lapeer Community Schools.

Caniff also was the assistant superintendent for Northview Public School District and a high school principal and teacher at Forest Hills Public Schools.

Haidle said board members will need some time to chart out a process for hiring a search firm and gathering input from stakeholders on the characteristics most desired in a new leader for Kent ISD.

“Selecting a new superintendent is the most important decision this board will make during the next school year,” she said. “We plan to take our time and get this right. We will release details as we work through some of the procedural issues over the next couple of months.”

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