The Altoona Area school board needs to prepare quickly for a major transition now that longtime Superintendent Dennis Murray has announced retirement at the end of the school year.
Murray will have served as head of the district for 28 years when he retires.
Replacing such a tenured professional is a big task under normal circumstances, but Altoona's challenges might be even bigger given the district's size, its worsening budget challenges given higher pension costs, its declining enrollment and a vacancy in a top administrative position.
Assistant Superintendent Norm Miller, perceived by some as a strong candidate to replace Murray, has resigned to take a job with the Central Dauphin School District.
Given this situation, the board needs to act quickly to decide on the skill set it most wants in the next superintendent so a broad search can be conducted for the best candidate to fit the district's needs, whether it's someone from within the district or outside the area.
Murray has been the major force with the Altoona district for more than two decades, and he will leave big shoes to fill.
It's important the board acts quickly to prepare the schools for the transition, but most of all, it's vital that directors find the right candidate for the tough task ahead.