The job of leading a school district has probably never been tougher than it is these days.
There are budget pressures that seem to only grow, many of them inherited from mistakes made decades ago, many of more recent vintage, the product of difficult mandates foisted on local school districts.
There are labor agreement pressures. There are academic testing pressures. There are safety and cultural issues that weren't part of the daily problems list decades ago.
For seven years, Dr. Kathleen Kelley has been leading the Williamsport Area School District through these daily minefields. She announced recently she will be retiring at the end of June as superintendent.
Anyone is free to judge the trajectory of the school district over the past seven years. Being criticized and judged from afar comes with the superintendent territory.
What we see in the past seven years is a more focused, energized school district. We see a heightened problem-solving attitude. Most of all, we see a sense of pride in the school district, a belief in its future.
These are things that only exist if they are implanted in the daily method of operation of the leader, in this case, Dr. Kelley.
Building projects, realigning schools, labor issues and budget crisis after budget crisis make it impossible for a superintendent to avoid a large share of critics.
But these issues represent ultratough decisions with no perfect outcome.
We appreciate that Dr. Kelley has attacked the problems she has faced with pragmatism, fairness and as much openness as possible.
The Williamsport Area School District was certainly better for her stewardship the past seven years.
She will be missed.