WILTON, Conn. – Wilton Superintendent Gary Richards, who has led the town’s schools for nearly 10 years, announced his intention to retire at the end of December, the Wilton Board of Education said Thursday.
Richards, who has been Wilton’s superintendent since 2004, plans to step down from his position effective Dec. 31, the board said. He has, however, offered to remain flexible with regard to his effective retirement date in order to help ensure a seamless transition.
“Wilton has meant a great deal to me and my family and I have enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to work with such fine people all of these years,” Richards said in the statement. “There is never a perfect time to announce a transition such as this, but I am confident now is a good time for me to make this change given the leadership and direction in place within the district.
“While I am looking forward to fewer late nights and new horizons, I will miss the daily interactions with our wonderful faculty, staff and students," he added.
Richards was named the 2013 Superintendent of the Year by the Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendents. His retirement will mark the end of his 42-year career in education, 27 years of which he spent as a superintendent.
Before coming to Wilton, Richards served as superintendent of the Oak Park Unified School District in California; New Canaan Public Schools; and the San Marino, Calif., Unified Public School District.
“We accept Dr. Richards’ decision with mixed emotions,” Wilton Board of Education Chairman Bruce Likly said in the statement. “Our schools, our children, and our community have benefited tremendously from Gary’s commitment to educational excellence, and we will miss his guidance and leadership. At the same time, he has certainly earned a happy and fulfilling retirement, and we wish him the best.”
In accordance with district policy, a superintendent search committee will soon be formed and tasked with finding Richards’ replacement, Likly said. In its search, the committee will seek out qualified candidates from across the country.
“Dr. Richards will leave a large pair of shoes to fill,” Likly said. “And given the critical importance of the superintendent’s position, we will take the necessary time to find the right candidate.
“We are grateful to Gary for offering to push his retirement date back a bit if we need more time to find a successor. This is indicative of the ‘students first’ attitude that has guided Gary throughout his long and successful career.”