The local Union School District is saying goodbye to a longtime leader and member of the educational family, and an interim superintendent has been appointed to lead the district at the start of the school year.
On Monday morning, Ben Porter tendered his resignation as school district superintendent, describing himself as mentally exhausted, especially after leading Union Local through the past two years of COVID-related lockdown and recovery efforts. 19.
“I gave everything I had in this position… and mentally, I have nothing more to give him. I gave it my all, and it’s just time for me to make a career change,” Porter said. “I will be on the job market. I don’t have a job right now, but we’ll see where things take me. …I think I’m going to step away from education for the time being and obviously if any opportunities arise I’ll consider them, but I just need a bit of a change right now.
On Monday night, the board named Sam Lucas of Barnesville as acting superintendent.
Porter had taken a brief leave of absence in November, and high school principal Zac Shutler was head of the district. Lockdowns and regulations have been a contentious topic, with the school board balancing objections to the precaution to mask the possibility that an outbreak could lead to school closures and students moving to remote learning.
Prior to the pandemic, improving buildings and formulating long-term education facilities and plans were top priorities. In recent months, the board has considered a free health clinic for students needing on-site treatment and services.
“It’s hard work, and it’s been a tough few years in this position,” Porter said. “Education is a tough field right now and people are passionate in different ways, and being able to bring everyone together is quite a challenge.”
A 1993 local graduate, Porter has served as superintendent for eight years. Prior to that, he was a special education coordinator and worked as a teacher.
Among Porter’s accomplishments in the superintendent’s job, he mentioned efforts to increase security and bring in resource officers after the district’s contract with the Village of Bethesda ended.