INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Superintendent Dr. Eugene White announced Tuesday he'll retire from Indianapolis Public Schools, effective April 5th.
"At the end of the work day on Friday, April 5, I will retire from the IPS school district," said White. "There's been speculation, but this is a heartfelt decision and I'm just thankful for the privilege of serving the young people of this community."
White has been superintendent of the district since 2005.
"I think, quite frankly, the board has been open and fair with the way they want to go, and I support that," said White.
"We're very grateful for his leadership, and we think a lot of progress has been made, but this is a new board, and I believe he was very gracious and understanding that new boards have new visions and new directions," said Diane Arnold, school board president.
White highlighted multiple achievements Tuesday, including cutting the drop out rate, and raising the graduation rate.
However, he said with a new board, "The community has validated their wishes, by electing them to office. That is definitely proof the community wants to see those reforms."
Although he's retiring, he'll still receive a severance package that could be up to $800,000 dollars. White's contract ends in 2015.
"We want to honor that and move forward, and we feel that we owe him the rest of his contract," said Arnold.
That package is still under negotiation. Arnold said with salary and benefits, the superintendent's position is worth $374,000 a year. They hope to have details ironed out next week.
In the meantime, White says he's unsure what he'll do next. White received the second of two Indiana Superintendent of the Year awards while at IPS in 2009, and he was the 2007 National Association of Black School Educators Superintendent of the Year.
Arnold said the search for White's replacement begins now.
Mayor Greg Ballard released a statement Tuesday evening, saying, "Eugene White's tenure as IPS Superintendent was a time of many challenges and successes. I appreciate his service to our community and look forward to a continued strong relationship with IPS as we work to advance the educational needs of our children in Indianapolis."
White Has Been Superintendent Since 2005
For the past eight years White led the district through a tumultuous period that included cutting football programs, closing schools, and more recently, handing over control of four poor performing schools to the State Board of Education. The challenges White has faced are not uncommon.
"If you look at urban districts across the States there isn't a district that's operating at a high level" said David Harris, CEO of The Mind Trust.
Harris' not for profit organization is dedicated to excellence in education. In 2011, the organization issued a 160 page in-depth report that proposes ways to overhaul IPS.
"Our recommendations are you need to shift resources and authority from the Central Office down to the school level and give school level leadership real autonomy over budget, staffing, culture, and curriculum" said Harris.
Harris admits the job of IPS superintendent is enormously challenging and comes with high expectations. He adds, when Eugene White leaves his post, his successor can be assured the city is well positioned to drive positive change when it comes to improving IPS.
"We have a concentration of entrepreneurial innovative talent here doing a whole range of things that are critical to improving schools that no city our size in America has" said Harris.
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