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Ashland High principal will retire Nov. 30; work through end of school year

ASHLAND — Ashland High School Principal Jeff Schlecht will retire at the end of this month, but will continue working as a contracted employee through the end of this school year, he announced Monday.

"It's the toughest decision that I've ever made, because the staff is so hard-working and passionate about what they do and it's been my privilege to serve with them," he said.

The Ashland School Board on Monday approved Schlecht's request to retire Nov. 30 and continue serving as principal through the end of the school year. Retired government employees are allowed to work as many as 1,039 hours in a calendar year.

"I think he'll be missed and he'll be hard to replace," board Chairman Keith Massie said.

Board member Ruth Alexander commended Schlecht for his leadership ability.

"He is loved by the high school, and especially by the high school faculty," she said. "We will sorely miss him."

Schlecht, 58, opted to retire this month in order to avoid potential changes to his retirement benefits in January, he said.

An educator for 30 years, Schlecht served as principal of Phoenix High School and Briscoe Elementary before becoming AHS principal in 2002.

Under Schlecht, the high school has won numerous awards, including one this year that recognizes the school as among the best in the state.

After this school year is over, Schlecht plans to continue living in Ashland and to stay involved in district activities, he said.

"I hope to support Ashland School District in whatever way the superintendent or teachers would like to use my expertise," he said.

Until then, Schlecht plans to put in at least 1,039 hours at the high school, he said.

"I'm going to keep on giving 150 percent until my final day in June," he said. "I have been the luckiest man in the world because I have been honored to be Ashland High's principal."

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.