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Susan Hintz, superintendent of the Osseo School District since 2006, has announced she will retire at the end of the school year.
Hintz, 59, plans to move to Indiana, where her husband, Craig, is a school superintendent. Hintz said she has been commuting to see her husband during the past six months.
"We've seen each other every weekend," she said, but "it's been really a challenge."
Hintz said she felt she could leave now because the district is in a good position to move ahead with a new leader.
As of now, the district is making no budget reductions for the 2010-11 school year and has no plans to ask voters for more money in November.
"That's with the information we have at this time," Hintz said. "I have to keep qualifying that. Every day there's more bad [financial] news."
Hintz's decision is the latest in a series of high-profile retirements by north-metro school superintendents. Anoka-Hennepin's Roger Giroux and Robbinsdale's Stan Mack retired last year. Don Helmstetter of Spring Lake Park retired this year.
Hintz became Osseo superintendent in 2006 after the school board bought out the contract of John F. O'Sullivan Jr. The board delivered O'Sullivan a unanimous "no confidence vote" and gave him a scathingly critical job evaluation.
Hintz was district assistant superintendent at the time. Before that, she had served in various positions in Indiana schools, including associate superintendent, director of elementary education, principal and high school English teacher.
During Hintz's tenure as Osseo's superintendent, voters passed part of a 2007 referendum request that replaced two existing tax levies with one bigger one, at $31 million a year over 10 years. Voters then turned down two district levy requests in 2008.
Despite the partial success of the 2007 referendum, the district was forced to cut the budget by $16 million two years ago. As part of that process, Hintz presided over the contentious closing of two elementary schools and the revamping of programs at four others.
It's precisely those moves, Hintz said, that have allowed the district to find itself in relative economic health while other districts are slashing their budgets.
"It's always emotional to have to close schools," Hintz said. "But we're moving forward." Plus, she said, student achievement measured by state test scores has risen.
Hintz also guided the drafting of a comprehensive district plan that the school approved in 2007.
"She has inspired significant improvements in education for our students," school board Chairman John Nelson said in a prepared statement.
Hintz said she hasn't decided what her next professional step will be.
"I'm just focusing on the rest of this year," she said. "I want to take a deep breath in July before I plunge into the next thing."
Board members will discuss the search for a new superintendent at their Jan. 26 meeting.
Norman Draper • 612-673-4547