ELIDA — At the Elida School Board meeting Justin Firks was introduced as the new high school principal coming from Bethel Local Schools where he had served the last three years as superintendent. He has been a superintendent for the last seven years but was looking to get back to a building administrator’s position. Firks started his administrative career at Fort Loramie as a middle school/high school principal. From there he moved to Fort Recovery serving four years as superintendent and then to Bethel and now to Elida.
“I’m just really excited about the opportunity to get back into a building. I’ve missed the daily interactions with kids and staff. As I have gotten higher up the food chain, so to speak, I feel like I’ve lost the connection with students and staff as a superintendent. That’s the biggest reason why I want to get back into a building level.”
In his current role as superintendent Firks feels that most of his time was consumed with building and levy issues. Growing up in Coldwater, Ohio, Firks played basketball for the Cavaliers. Playing basketball and refereeing for 14 years allowed him to become familiar with the Elida Fieldhouse and former Athletic Director Dave May.
“The reason why I got into education was to help students. Some of the days that I’ve missed the most are the days that I was a building principal and a teacher. So at this point in my career, I look forward to serving not only students but the staff and the parents and the community.”
Firks played baseball at Ashland University, getting his undergraduate degrees. He earned advanced degrees from both Wright State and Bowling Green and received his superintendent’s license from the University of Dayton
There has been some controversy in Firks’s recent past. According to the Mercer County Outlook, Bethel Local Schools has been embroiled in a heated community debate over transgender restroom access for several months. “So receiving his resignation wasn’t a huge surprise given the community pressure. And given that we had received some word that he was already looking for another position outside of the district,” said Jessica Franz, school board member.
Board member Danny Elam said he would accept the resignation with regrets. “Mr. Firks has done an outstanding job here in the last three years. It’s a pity that it has come to this, in my opinion,” Elam said. He and board President Lydda Mansfield voted “yes” to accept the resignation with both noting their regrets. The vote was unanimous.
In a letter to the Bethel School Board of Education, Firks said, “It has been a priority over the last seven years as a superintendent of schools to make decisions that are in the best interest of the students and staff,” Firks said. “Being a superintendent, historically, has been seen as a profession of sacrifice. However, sacrificing health, family, dignity and your professional reputation should not be a part of the job.”
Firks has been with the district three years and will leave at the end of his contract July 31, according to the board and the letter.