As a longtime Boy Scout leader, Rich Beran has climbed a few mountains.

He acknowledged Monday that he’s got an uphill climb ahead in his new job.

The Gretna school board on Monday voted 6-0 to promote Beran to superintendent.

The 60-year-old Beran, an assistant superintendent, will replace long-serving Gretna Superintendent Kevin Riley.

Riley retires June 30.

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Beran said Monday that he’s humbled to follow in Riley’s footsteps.

“In my mind, he’s the best superintendent in the state, maybe in the nation,” Beran said. “You can’t replace someone like that. So you just have to go in with the knowledge that you’re going to do the best that you possibly can for the kids and the parents and the community.”

Board members approved a three-year contract, with an annual starting salary at $200,000 for the 2019-20 school year. Benefits include health, dental and other insurance, use of a district vehicle and travel expenses, vacation, and sick and bereavement leave.

Beran’s base salary is slightly below Riley’s base in his final year, $204,849.

David Gulizia, president of the Gretna board, said board members have been talking for a few years about how to replace Riley.

“We all have agreed that we like the culture of our school district,” Gulizia said. “We thought the best way to keep that culture going would be to stay in-house. What better choice do we have than Dr. Riley’s assistant for 20 years?”

Gulizia, who has been on the board 14 years, said he’s had many years to get to know Beran personally and professionally.

“Someone asked me, ‘How did you know Rich would be good?’ I said, ‘I’ve been interviewing Rich for 14 years,’ ” Gulizia said.

Beran, a former social studies teacher, has worked as assistant superintendent since 1999.

Before that, he worked at various Nebraska schools as a teacher, coach and principal, including Lexington, Fremont Bergan, Gretna and Albion.

Along the way, he’s coached football, wrestling, track and basketball.

He’s been active with Gretna Boy Scout Troop 363 and is an assistant Scoutmaster.

He and his wife, Amy, have four grown children: Jacob, twins Luke and David, and Scott.

The Gretna Area Chamber of Commerce named him Citizen of the Year in 2011, based largely on his work with the Scouts.

He was named the 2012 Outstanding Administrator by the Nebraska Bandmaster’s Association.

Stepping up to superintendent, he said, means stepping into the limelight, an unfamiliar role for him.

“I’ve always been the guy behind the scenes ... taking care of the day-to-day operations,” he said. “So this will be different in that I now have to be out front.”

He said the district’s recent $85 million bond issue will keep him busy. He said he’s been closely involved with previous Gretna bond construction projects, but administering the most recent bond issue — the district’s largest ever — will be a little more challenging.

“We’ve never had this many projects going at one time,” he said.

Gretna voters approved the bond issue last November.

In addition to substantially boosting classroom space at the elementary level, the bond issue will expand and spruce up the district’s athletic stadium, add on to the high school and buy land for future school sites.

Riley, who will be 66 in June, has been superintendent for 20 years.

In 1999, when he took over as superintendent, the district had 1,361 kids. It now has nearly 5,300.

Joe covers education for The World-Herald, focusing on pre-kindergarten through high school. Phone: 402-444-1077.

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