Bob Hollister, the longest-tenured school superintendent in Lancaster County, is retiring in early 2022, he announced at the Eastern Lancaster County School District board meeting Monday night.
Hollister, who’s led the district since 2008, made the surprise announcement “with a heavy, but satisfied heart,” giving the school board at least six months to find a replacement.
He did not provide a specific retirment date, but he said it would be no later than March 11, 2022.
“I am deeply grateful for the incredible support that I received from our school community and community at large for nearly 16 years, 13 years as superintendent,” Hollister, 54, told the board. “The number of servant-minded, passionate, competent individuals whom I have had the pleasure to know, serve alongside, simply stand back and admire are too numerous to mention here.”
In a brief follow-up interview with LNP | LancasterOnline after Monday night’s meeting, Hollister chalked the decision up to timing.
Hollister, whose annual salary is $208,155, said the school district is in a good place academically and financially, and he wanted to leave “on a high note.”
Personally, Hollister said he wants to spend more time with his family, including his wife and daughter and his 81-year-old father who’s struggling to maintain the family woodworking business, Hollister’s Sawmill, in Columbia. Hollister said he’d be interested in volunteering as a board member for local nonprofits.
Asked if the COVID-19 pandemic played into his decision, Hollister said, while it wore on him, it’s not the reason for retiring.
Hollister described the challenges of navigating the pandemic as bad weather relative to the overall climate.
“The weather can be taxing at times, but I like the climate,” he said.
Hollister has had his fair share of weather events over the course of his career, with COVID-19 being the most recent. In 2019, the administration and school board faced a public outcry over the use of locker rooms and bathrooms by transgender students. The district embarked on a $2.4 million project to add single-user, gender-neutral facilities in their schools.
Among the highlights of Hollister’s tenure are the school’s expansion of technology, including the formation of the school district’s online academy; tackling two superintendent jobs in a one-year shared leadership agreement with Columbia Borough School District in 2016-17; and various building projects, such as the Garden Spot secondary campus renovation.
Board members expressed shock Monday night after Hollister’s announcement.
“We’ve worked together (for) a long time, Bobby,” school board President Thomas Wentzel said, adding that Hollister has laid a “solid foundation” and the superintendent is “greatly appreciated by the board.”
Hollister came to Elanco in 2005, when he was hired as the assistant superintendent. He took over as superintendent three years later, after former Superintendent Saundra Hoover retired.
Hollister was born in Lancaster and grew up near the village of Silver Spring in the Hempfield School District. He graduated from Lancaster Catholic High School and then Millersville University.
After graduating from Millersville, he started as a technology teacher in Boyertown. His experience prior to Elanco includes being an assistant principal and principal in the Pennridge School District, Kutztown School District and Quakertown School District.