By David Carroll

CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB)- The longest-running Director of Schools in southeast Tennessee has announced he will step down in June 2011. Dr. Rick Denning is retiring from the top post at Cleveland City Schools.

Dr. Denning will have served 17 1/2 years in the post when he retires.  School Board member Dr. Murl Dirksen tells Eyewitness News, "We have been very fortunate to have had Dr. Denning for such a long time.  The average tenure for a director of schools is about four years, and he will be hard to replace."

Dr. Denning made his announcement in a letter to School Board members at their Monday night meeting.  Board member Dirksen said he appreciated the one-year notice from Dr. Denning. "This will give us time to conduct a nationwide search, and make sure we have a smooth transition.  Cleveland City Schools has experienced great growth under Dr. Denning, and we are grateful for his service," Dr. Dirksen said.