Updated at 6:20 with an interview from Dr. Julie Sperry, principal of Brentwood Middle School and more information about the district's academic success.
Updated at 3:45 p.m. with additional information about last year's KMOV story and Penberthy's retirement plans.
Updated at 2:56 p.m. with information from school district officials.
Superintendent Dr. Charles Penberthy announced his upcoming retirement from the Brentwood School District on Wednesday.
Penberthy, 57, will retire at the end of the school year. His last day is scheduled as June 30, 2012.
"I've enjoyed my time here immensely," Penberthy said. "It's been a privilege to work here in this district."
Penberthy entered as Brentwood's superintendent in 2003. He said he's most proud of the progress the schools have made academically during his time as superintendent.
Both the Brentwood High and Mark Twain Elementary schools were named National Blue Ribbon schools, the highest honor on the federal level, during Penberthy's time as superintendent. Brentwood Middle School and Mark Twain were both named Missouri Gold Star schools. Last year, Mark Twain was named a National School of Character.
Brentwood students' Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) and American College Testing (ACT) scores have also improved each year. The district exceeded the state's targets in MAP testing last year, and the Class of 2011 earned the highest ACT average in school history.
Penberthy has raised the bar for everyone in the schools, said Chris Jones, president of the Brentwood Board of Education.
"I can't say enough nice things about him," Jones said. "We've got some big shoes to fill."
David Faulkner, who works as assistant to the superintendent, commended Penberthy's dedication to the success of each child in the district.
When Penberthy made decisions about hiring new teachers, spending district money or weighing which programs to offer students, he first thought about how his decisions would benefit the students, Faulkner said.
"This job, really done well, is personal and always about children," Faulkner said. "He always puts the child at the center of the decision."
Dr. Julie Sperry, principal of Brentwood Middle School, worked in the district before Penberthy started. She said Penberthy "is tough, but a great mentor and a great leader."
He helped her question every process in her school, and the students performed better academically because of their early work, Sperry said.
Penberthy previously worked as assistant superintendent and superintendent in the Gasconade County School District. He has also worked as a middle school principal, teacher and coach in the Union, Perry County, Farmington, Arcadia Valley and Woodland school districts.
Penberthy's ending salary is $218,000 per year.
Pay Controversy on KMOV
Penberthy's pay was the center of a KMOV story last September. The news channel reported that Penberthy earned $270 in salary for every student in the district, compared to Kirkwood's superintendent Dr. Tom Williams' $48 per student.
Penberthy declined an interview with KMOV. Keith Rabenberg, then the president of the school board, responded by sending a letter to parents that outlined why Penberthy was paid so well.
"The Board’s goal is to have all salary categories in the top one-third as compared to other county school districts. Salaries for all work areas, from custodians to administrators, are reviewed each year and adjustments made to be competitive in the work market," the letter noted.
"You have to take the good with the bad," said Penberthy during a Wednesday interview. "But you never lose focus on the district and doing what's best for the kids."
What's Next for Penberthy and Brentwood Schools?
The school board will meet in a couple of weeks to discuss how it plans to fill the superintendent position. The job will be posted internally, but the board could also work with the Missouri School Boards' Association to help with the search process.
Board members aim to name a new superintendent by the end of 2011, Jones said.
Penberthy said the district will experience a smooth transition under a new superintendent. The teachers are exceptional, the district's culture is positive and the Brentwood community is always supportive, both with time and taxes, Penberthy said.
Penberthy hasn't decided what's next for him during retirement.
"That chapter of the book hasn't been written yet," he said.
But he wants to spend more time with his wife, who retired four years ago, and his grandchildren. He also hopes to play a lot more golf and identify a part-time job or volunteer opportunity.