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Mansfield superintendent stepping down

MANSFIELD _ Longtime Mansfield superintendent Vernon Newsom on Wednesday announced his plans to retire from the district in June 2009.

Newsom has headed the district since 1996. He is one of the longest-serving superintendents in Tarrant County.

"The time's right. I needed to let the board know so they can work through a process to find our next superintendent," Newsom said from his home Wednesday evening. "It's tough. I've certainly invested a lot in the Mansfield district. It's been my baby of sorts, and it's hard to let it go." Newsom told his staff about his decision late Wednesday afternoon. He said he plans to remain a Mansfield resident.

The Mansfield school board will begin drafting a process to hire Newsom's replacement, said a news release from the district. There is no established timeline or process, but a transition plan has been in place since 2007 with the creation of the deputy superintendent position, occupied by Bob Morrison.

"Obviously, it's not a major surprise. We knew he'd retire sometime," said Mansfield school trustee Dan Phillips. "He's been a great asset to the district for 13 years, and the district would be nowhere near where it is today without him."

Newsom, a native of Garden City in West Texas, was a science teacher and coach at Mansfield schools from 1974 to '87, when he left for the Wimberley district. He was superintendent there when he resigned to take Mansfield's top job in July 1996.

The Mansfield district's enrollment has tripled during Newsom's tenure, from about 10,000 to almost 30,000 students. The one high school is now four, and there are now a total of 35 schools in the district.

During his tenure, Newsom hired the first black principal at any Mansfield school, and the second woman athletic director in the county.