Columbus Public Schools will be losing one of its key figures at the end of this school year.
Dave Melick, the executive director of business operations and human relations at CPS, will retire after 39 years in education (eight spent in Columbus). He leaves behind a significant legacy, according to CPS Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz.
“He came in and helped us stabilize during a time, budgetarily, where state aid dollars were dwindling and we had to relook at how we budget to make our district work,” Loeffelholz said. “A lot of times, he has really built the budget … around our strategic plan and he has done an excellent job of that ..."
Melick tendered his letter of resignation, effective June 30, 2020, to the CPS Board of Education at Monday’s meeting. In it, he said that he wanted to spend a little bit more time with his wife, who has been retired for several years now.
“I’ve been in education for 39 years (but) my wife has been retired for a few years, and I sense that there’s a lot of freedom there and I’m looking forward to having that same type of freedom,” Melick said during an interview Tuesday. “I’ve enjoyed my time working with Columbus Public Schools. I think we have a great administrative team. I think the Board of Education is helping to move the district in the right direction and our staff is doing wonderful things with our students every day.”
Melick has been with CPS through a significant era of change and transition for the district. During his time, the district has seen the building of a brand new high school and the renovation of the old one into the current middle school. It has also seen tough negotiations with the Columbus Education Association, the implementation of the current strategic plan and helping to plant the seeds for a more stable CPS. It’s an experience that he will miss, but one that he takes plenty of pride in.
“It’s been an enjoyable experience,” Melick said. “I like a good challenge, and some years, the budget process has given us that. The state takes away a lot of your state aid some years and increases it some years. It’s always kind of a balancing act to make sure everything fits. We have some good strategic plans that have helped us determine how we’re going to allocate extra dollars when they’re available.”
The decision to leave CPS wasn’t too surprising for someone like Loeffelholz, who had plenty of conversations with Melick about the future in recent years. He indicated it's a bittersweet situation watching someone who does a lot of good work retire.
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“Once you get past the 30-32 year mark, a lot of people can retire right away,” Loeffelholz said. “When he left Madison, one of the questions I asked him as part of the hiring process was, ‘How many years do you still plan on going?’ He said (at that time) he had no plans to retire in the immediate future.
“Everybody’s life changes. But, it was excellent for us. We were going through some transition at the time. Me and him, we’ve always had that conversation every year about, ‘What are you potentially thinking?’ It was always two or three years. This year, I knew I was too hopeful that he would stay two or three more years again.”
Melick decided that now was a good time to step away from what he has worked so hard to help build. He said he will miss the loyal staff that has worked so hard alongside him over the past eight years in order to keep the Discoverer ship running smooth, adding his own hopes for whoever will be his replacement.
“Rely on the others in the finance and HR department,” Melick said. “Rely on the others in the administrative team to help set the direction.”
As for finding the replacement, Loeffelholz said that the search will begin sometime next month. The hope is to have someone hired by February so that Melick can get his successor acclimated to his new position.
“(February) is about the time state aid gets certified, so Dave can start having some conversations with that person,” Loeffelholz said. “My guess is that whoever we hire is going to come from another school district. You don’t want to leave them out there hanging in April looking for someone to replace that person. Hopefully, by the first of February, we can get that done.”
Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.