Ravenna Superintendent Dennis Honkala to retire after 10 years helming district
Dennis Honkala, who has served as superintendent of the Ravenna School District since 2011, plans to retire at the end of the school year.
The Ravenna Board of Education accepted Honkala's resignation on Monday. The board plans to work with Finding Leaders to find its next superintendent.
"You had a tough job," Board Member Joan Seman said to Honkala. "We appreciate all you've done."
Honkala plans to finish his contract, which expires in July.
Hired in 2011 from Buckeye Local Schools, Honkala has worked in education for 33 years. Before becoming a superintendent and high school administrator, he served as a high school teacher.
"I am proud of what we have accomplished in Ravenna over the past decade," Honkala said. "We have strong central office and building leadership throughout the district excellent athletic facilities and strong community support. That makes it the perfect time to hand this role to a new leader — and any leader would be fortunate to work for this school board and serve this community."
Honkala points to decisions that improved the district's facilities, including raising more than $800,000 to improve the athletic facilities at Ravenna High School through donations from the business community. More recently, a permanent improvement levy funded a new roof for West Park School, ChromeBooks for every student in the district and improving the bus fleet.
Recently, a building reorganization process was done in anticipation of budget cuts from the state. That move saved the district $1.2 million a year, but also closed Carlin Elementary School to students, and relocated the board office and district preschool to Carlin. Tappan Elementary School also was closed under Honkala's watch.
He said his "most satisfying accomplishments" include building community relationships that persuaded businesses to donate $800,000 for the stadium renovation in 2013; the Momentum Award from the state of Ohio for academic accomplishments in 2016; the recent reorganization of the district, and leading the district through the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, he worked to create, implement and facilitate the Ravenna Schools Equity and Inclusion Task Force.
"I am excited to relax for a short while, but I still have energy left and I believe that my calling will always be in some type of public service," he said. "Being an old government teacher, I have always wanted to serve in local government. I may have an opportunity to do just that in the upcoming year."
Honkala lives in New Franklin in Summit County. His predecessor, Tim Calfee, serves on Ravenna City Council.