James Reitenbach named School Superintendent in Avon

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NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 7-7-99, By JoAnne Easterday

"Jim Reitenbach may appear calm and cool about his new position as superintendent of Avon schools, but he'll admit he is quite excited about beginning his new job.

Reitenbach replaces Superintendent John Bianchi, who is retiring August 1, [1999]

Perhaps the 18 years he worked as a head basketball coach prepared him for with "excitement with calmness"--as might be seen in some coaches at a close-score, near-end game, he said.

Reitenbach's 30 year academic career includes, most recently, three years at Brookside High School as assistant principal. Before that he served two years as personnel director and did the same work, as would an assistant superintendent at Maple Heights, Ohio. During his two years on the eastside he commuted to his home in Elyria, which he shares with his wife of 17 years, Renee, and three children Shari, 15; Julie, 13 and Jim, 9.

Before that the 51-year old man was the athletic coordinator among the five upper-grade schools at Elyria City Schools.

The Cleveland native's experience in Lorain County began in 1985 at Midview High School. He served as athletic director and basketball coach at Tiffin University and held positions at Lake Catholic High School and Farmington High School.

"I enjoy sports," he said.

His education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from John Carroll University; a Masters in Education from Cleveland State and 35 hours of post masters work, 30 hours at Akron University and five at Ashland. Twelve years ago, when he began his post graduate work he didn't know he would be positioning himself to be at the right place at the right time, close to Avon at the retirement time of its superintendent. "My first priority is to get to know the community and the school district better," Reitenbach said of his plans. "I would like to continue the leadership that John Bianchi brought to the district. I have to learn the intricacies of the position."

"The Avon school district is a very good one. I'll be observing and looking for ways to enhance and make it even better. The board and Bianchi have done a tremendous job of putting the Avon schools in a very good position," he said.

Reitenbach is impressed with the community itself, particularly its response to the lack of funds initially to complete the auditorium at the high school.

"Avon is a community with a tremendous amount of pride. They believe in doing things the right way. The school district also believes in that."

"The community values its children, education and money. It's a conservative community. I'm conservative," Reitenbach said.

The new superintendent is well aware of the district's reputation and position among schools in the state. In this year's state report card, the district was graded a 15 out of 18.

"The growth factor appealed to me. It's exciting to have a hand in directing the corresponding growth in the school system, Reitenbach said. Adding teachers appealed to him rather than having to cut positions because of declining enrollment.

Reitenbach said he believed it important for "the central office" to maintain it's focus on educating children. He said his three years at Brookside was helpful for him to refocus on the fact that it is in the classroom itself where actual learning occurs.

Regarding tax abatement for incoming industry, Reitenbach said, "It's a difficult issue." Ultimately, it does bring in money and jobs, he said. He aims to form a partnership among the schools, the community and industry.

He likes it when an industry steps foreword with money for the schools as an outright gift as happened with various industries when they contributed a portion of the $400,000 it took to complete the high school auditorium. Although there has been only a handshake agreement, School Board President Len DeChant expects the details of employment to be ironed out. Reitenbach will begin work August 1 as superintendent.

"He'll do a good job," said DeChant. "He's a lot like John (retiring superintendent Bianchi)-very low key, good leadership skills. He knows the county and the people. That will be a 'leg up' for him." ..."


"AVON -- A positive relationship with every segment of the community is a tremendous asset for any public official, and Jim Reitenbach knows that well.

Reitenbach, just named superintendent of the Avon School District, said one of his top priorities will be to forge those relationships. He replaces John Bianchi, who retired this year.

"I certainly want to go in and meet the community, the staff, and the kids, and develop a good relationship with the Board of Education," he said.

Reitenbach, 51, has been involved in education for nearly 30 years. He began his career in Trumbull County and moved through the ranks of educational administration and athletics, compiling an impressive resume of experience.

For the past three years, Reitenbach has been assistant principal of Brookside High School in the Sheffield/Sheffield Lake district.

Before taking the position at Brookside, he was personnel director in the Maple Heights City Schools, athletic coordinator in the Elyria Schools, economics teacher at Midview High School, and social studies department chair at Lake Catholic High School.

He also served as athletic director and head basketball coach at Tiffin University in Seneca County.

He said he remained in the field of education for so long because serving children is his calling.

"I know I was put on earth to serve kids, and education is the perfect place to serve kids," he said. "It gives me meaning; it gives me value."

Reitenbach, a Cleveland native who now lives in Elyria, is no stranger to working with small school districts like Avon. In fact, he said he prefers smaller districts.

"I like small districts because you get to know people," he said. "In small districts, you can keep your hands on things and manage things. For me, this is a good situation."

Although the school year is still nearly two months away, Reitenbach is optimistic about the future. He officially begins his post Aug. 1, [1999] ..."

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