Mary Ann Ranells

West Ada School District Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells sits in her office on Sept. 17, 2019.

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Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on January 5, 2021.

West Ada Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells plans to resign from the state’s largest school district at the end of the school year.

Ranells’ resignation letter to the board of trustees, dated Sunday, was short:

“For personal reasons involving my family, I am resigning my position as Superintendent effective June 30, 2021,” it says. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the students, staff and patrons of the West Ada School District.”

Ranells did not immediately return a call for comment.

“This weeks marks my sixth year as the superintendent in West Ada School District — three years longer than I promised the board in 2016,” Ranells wrote in an email to students, parents and guardians forwarded to Idaho Education News. “Serving in this capacity has been a dream come true personally and professionally, and I will be forever grateful.”

Ranells was appointed superintendent of the 38,000-student district in 2016. She was the only candidate that trustees interviewed for the job, and replaced Linda Clark, who retired amid conflicts with the school board. (Clark was later appointed to a post on the State Board of Education.)

Before coming to West Ada, Ranells had worked in education for 41 years, including serving as the state’s deputy superintendent of public instruction and superintendent of the Lakeland School District in Rathdrum. She was named Idaho’s superintendent of the year in 2018.

The board of trustees will consider Ranells’ resignation at a Jan. 12 meeting.

West Ada suffered its first enrollment drop in at least 30 years this school year. Enrollment dropped by at least 2,200 students — about 5.4 percent from last year — because of COVID-19.

Ranells’ resignation follows a series of shake-ups in West Ada, including the resignation of two school board chairmen.

  • On Oct. 13, board member Ed Klopfenstein resigned as chairman but retained his school board seat.
  • On Oct. 27, board member Steve Smylie resigned after saying volunteer trustees are under enormous pressure because high-stakes reopening and closing decisions have been kicked to local school boards.
  • On Dec. 8, board chair Philip Neuhoff announced he will resign rather than face a recall election.

Clark Corbin contributed to this report.

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