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Superintendent Kenneth Spells leaving South Bend School Corporation

WSBT 22

South Bend schools will be looking for a new leader: Superintendent Kenneth Spells will leave when his contract expires in June.

This comes after the school board offered to extend his contract.

Spells says his decision is something he's thought long and hard about it, but he's ready for new opportunities.

He started back in June of 2016.

School board members say they're ready for the changes coming their way.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I wanted to announce my departure from the South Bend schools,” said Spells.

Superintendent Kenneth Spells stood at a podium Thursday afternoon announcing his plans to step down once his contract runs out in June.

Spells has headed the district for a little over two years and says he could not be more proud of all of the district's accomplishments.

“I am very proud of the work we have done here and the great staff and the great community that came aboard team South Bend,” said Spells. “I will always cherish those relationships.”

Working together, the team successfully raised the district's 'D' rating up to a 'C'

When Spells first came on board, the district had 15 schools with F ratings. Now, there are only 7.

He also moved the 5th grade back at the elementary level and closed or merged several schools as part of his Focus 2018 plan.

“All of the pieces are in place to continue the momentum,” said Spells. “They shouldn’t have any worries or concerns about that.”

But even with the support, school board members know it will be tough without him. They say Spells is a legacy of team South Bend.

“He has been a fabulous member outreach to the community,” said John Anella, VP School Board of Trustees. “He’s at every game and every event -- he’s accessible.”

The announcement came as a shock to community members like Samuel Brown.

“I am shocked,” said Samuel Brown, community member. “It’s hard to replace a leader like Spells.”

Spells may be leaving South Bend schools, but the superintendent title remains.

He accepted a position as superintendent of Hazel Crest schools in Illinois just outside of Chicago.

“Even though I am across that line, we will still be doing the same work: helping students,” said Spells.

The school board has appointed Todd Cummings as deputy superintendent, the current Director of Human Resources for South Bend schools.

The board will soon start looking for a permanent replacement.

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