Gretna Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Riley announced Monday night that he will retire effective June 30.

Also on Monday, board members announced that they are negotiating with assistant superintendent Rich Beran to be the next superintendent.

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

He has worked in the district for 37 years, ushering it through a period of dramatic growth.

Although the district has not had to deal with severe poverty and the challenges it poses for teaching, Riley has been an advocate for other districts whose students are not as affluent as his.

He has also frequently cautioned against putting too much stock in test scores for rating schools, saying tests too often just tell where the poverty is.

He was assistant principal at the junior-senior high school for three years, then Gretna High School principal for 14 years before becoming superintendent.

“I’ve just been really lucky that I fell into this 37 years ago,” he said.

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

Before coming to Gretna, he taught and coached in the Millard Public Schools for 4 1/2 years.

Riley is one of the last who was a metro area superintendent during the tumult caused by Omaha Public Schools’ one-city, one school district takeover plan and the subsequent creation of the Learning Community and its controversial common levy.

The other would be Terry Haack in Bennington.

Riley grew up near 33rd and Martha Streets in Omaha, attending Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in kindergarten through eighth grade. He attended Paul VI High School.

Riley said that he’s been thinking about retiring for a couple of years and that the plans firmed up recently.

He said the district has a “treasure trove” of talented staff and great families and kids.

He said he’s ready for the winter of his life, adding: “I hope it’s a long, mild winter.”

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

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