Utica school superintendent announces retirement just before new school year

Dr. Johns has held position for 14 years

The Utica schools superintendent announced her retirement weeks before the school year was expected to start.

UTICA, Mich. – The superintendent of Utica Community Schools has announced she’s retiring this fall.

The departure of Dr. Christine Johns comes at a time when there are so many unknowns about what school will even look like come September.

READ: Here’s what Michigan school districts have planned for the fall amid the pandemic

When Local 4 reached out, parents overwhelmingly welcomed the decision saying they weren’t happy with the direction the district was going in.

“I’m 100% confident that we will do as good a job as is humanly possible under these circumstances,” said Utica School Board president Bob Ross. “I would guess that the students and parents would not notice any, any difference in the transition.”

During her 14-year tenure, more than 400,000 students graduated from the district -- which is the second largest in the state.

Earlier this year, the teachers union wrapped up contract negotiations.

“I think it’s been time for a new leadership, so I’m looking forward to better collaboration with between the Association and the district,” said Utica Education Association president Liza Parkinson.

The union said they have full confidence in the board of education. Oftentimes over the years, union leadership and the outgoing superintendent didn’t see eye-to-eye.

“There was a tremendous amount of friction between the Utica Education Association and the superintendent,” Parkinson said.

The school board said they’ll hire an interim superintendent for the upcoming 2020-21 school year while they begin a nationwide search for Johns’ replacement.

“I think parents should be very confident that while this year is going to be different. There’s no question about that,” Ross said. “It is going to be different but their children are going to get an excellent education here.”

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.