SALT LAKE CITY — Saying he would stay on until a replacement is named, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Martell Menlove announced his retirement Friday.
“It is with regret that we accept Superintendent Menlove’s decision,” Utah State Board of Education Chairman David Crandall said in a prepared statement. “I believe we all have great respect for Martell and respectfully accept this decision.”
Menlove was selected as state superintendent in 2012 but did not officially assume the post until January 2013. At the time, Menlove was asked about the potential duration of his service, and he expressed his intention to continue working in public education for five years.
On Friday, Menlove said he struggled with retiring earlier than he indicated he would but added that the decision has been made.
Menlove said he has appreciated the opportunity to interact with educators around the state and work with lawmakers to meet the needs of Utah schools.
"I hope we have a better relationship between the State Board of Education, the State Office of Education and the Legislature," he said. "That’s something I’ve worked on, and I think some of those things are better now than they’ve been at times in the past."
Menlove's retirement follows a decision by his wife, Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, to not seek re-election to the Utah House this year. He said that was part of his consideration to retire, and he looks forward to spending time with his family.
"At some point in time, I hope my wife and I have an opportunity to do some church service, but there’s nothing else out there right now that I’m looking at," Martell Menlove said.
He previously worked as a classroom teacher, counselor and administrator in the Jordan, Tooele, Rich and Box Elder school districts. He was twice named Utah Superintendent of the Year before joining the Utah State Office of Education in 2009 as deputy state superintendent.
Former State Superintendent Patti Harrington, now executive director of the Utah State Superintendents Association, described Menlove's retirement as a loss for the public education system.
"He’s a great superintendent," she said. "He has wonderful integrity and tremendous knowledge about how to improve schools and support great teaching."
Harrington described the position of state superintendent as very time-consuming, requiring a constant interaction with State School Board members and educators, the overseeing of a staff of more than 200 employees at the state office, and frequent discussions with the governor's office, lawmakers and representatives of the business and technology communities.
"There are so many demands of time, attention and focus," she said. "It’s just a 24/7 kind of job."
Harrington said she appreciates the way Menlove was able to bring a focus to the state's educational priorities. She said from the day he was named as superintendent, Menlove was clear about the need for investment and improvement in third-grade reading proficiency, eighth-grade math proficiency and high school graduation, which helped foster a spirit of collaboration among stakeholders.
"That’s been very helpful to rivet our attention around key targets in education, and he’s done a great job that way," she said.
Gov. Gary Herbert also expressed his appreciation for Menlove's work in Utah's public education system.
"Ensuring Utah students receive a great education requires skilled teachers and administrators," Herbert said in a prepared statement. "For nearly four decades, Martell has served admirably in the classroom, as a counselor and most recently as state superintendent. His broad experience has been a benefit to Utah students, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors."
Crandall said the State School Board will immediately begin its search for Menlove's replacement, with initial action expected to take place during the board's April 4 meeting.
"We will take the time necessary to conduct a thorough search and appropriately vet all candidates,” he said.
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