Larry Powell, Fresno County schools Superintendent, to retire

FRESNO, Calif.

Speaking at a news conference outside his Downtown Fresno office, Larry Powell officially announced plans to step down from his post for a second time.

"I feel very happy of where we are," said Powell. "We had a tough tough last seven years, 22% loss of money and yet we've been very stable in these times providing a great education to a lot of families."

Powell says he was driven out of retirement back in 2011 after watching elected officials in Bell, California secretly boosted their salaries by hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's when he decided to return the more than $200,000 he was being paid - to the board - agreeing to work for just $31,000 a year, less than a first year teacher.

Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson said, "He's the eternal optimist, a man of faith, he believes the world can be better through hard work, collaboration and it comes out in everything he does, so he'll be sorely missed."

His career in education began as a wrestling coach at McLane High School, then a teacher of American government at Sanger High School. It also included stints in the Fresno and Central Unified school districts before he moved on to the county office of education.

"Preschool is a big thing we've done in the last seven years," said Powell. "School safety is something we've worked on in the last seven years, we've been very active in the arts, bringing arts education back to our kids."

He says after a successful first half of his life, it's now time to do something significant with the second half. He plans to step away to pursue other interests including motivational speaking, writing, and acting.

Powell explained, "I'm working with Alan Autry and I'm involved in a movie right now, so I'm having fun with that."

Allowing someone else to step up to the plate for Fresno County schools. It will now be up to the county board of education to appoint Powell's replacement. That could happen as early as next week.

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