After almost 14 years leading the Central Valley School District, Ben Small said he’s ready for a new challenge.
Small acknowledged that the last two years have been challenging enough, but said that the decision was based “on the totality of where I see myself going and where I see the Central Valley School District going.”
“The future for me is open right now,” the 57-year-old Small said Tuesday. “This was a tough decision, but the right one for me and my family.”
Earlier Tuesday, the district announced that Small would retire at the end of the school year and that it would hold a special meeting later this week to plan the process for selecting his successor.
“Ben Small has been a tremendous leader for our community over the past 14 years,” board President Cindy McMullen said. “His vision and leadership leaves a legacy that will continue to benefit our students, staff, teachers and community members for many years to come.”
Small presided over historic growth at Spokane County’s second-largest district, which now serves more than 14,000 students. This year, the district added a third high school, Ridgeline, in Liberty Lake.
“I am so proud of what our Central Valley School District team has accomplished over the past 14 years. When our community comes together around a vision, we can do big things,” Small said.
Small said he’s most proud “that we have been able to provide a vision for our community, and that growth can be a positive thing. Building on the bond in 2015 and again in 2018 – that gave us momentum.”
Small also said he appreciated the community’s willingness to build partnerships with the district. “Those are going to be long-lasting,” he said. “This community made the decision to invest in our students and in high quality education. I believe the investment is paying off for our students, families and community.”
The district is in a very strong position, and it’s a good time for a new leader to take it into the next decade, Small said.
Like all district leaders, Small and his staff have dealt for almost two years with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During that time, Central Valley has endured protests at board meetings and at district headquarters, with many opposing the district’s decision to go with remote learning in the fall of 2020 and to follow mask mandates a year later.
“Certainly the last two years have been very difficult, but that is not the main factor in my decision to retire,” Small said. Rather, that decision was reached following “a lot of thorough conversations with my family.”
Small and his wife, Jen, have two children in Central Valley schools, and he has three grown children from a previous marriage.
Small said he looked forward to spending more time with family – at baseball games, choir and other activities.
Small began his education career in 1990, teaching middle school in Walla Walla. From 1996 to 2008, he worked in the Columbia School District in Burbank, Washington, as the middle school principal, executive director for teaching and learning, and for five years as the superintendent.
Small earned his associate of arts degree from Spokane Falls Community College, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Washington University, and earned his superintendent credential from Washington State University.
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