While many students were sleeping last night, a major power shift occurred at the state’s largest school system. The head of Indianapolis Public Schools, Superintendent Eugene White, announced he’s retiring.
As 30,000 IPS students come to school this morning, they won’t notice anything different. But the implications of Dr. White’s retirement on the future of these schools loom large.
After more than seven years with the district, White’s announcement to the IPS Board Tuesday night was brief. He was thankful for the privilege of serving the people of this community.
White’s leadership brought full-day kindergarten and higher graduation rates. But overall, the inner city schools lagged below state averages. Perhaps the breaking point came with a new school board and a clash in ideas about the future of the district, leading to the board’s decision to sideline White’s plans for free, full-day preschool.
“There is a strong feeling of reforming the district,” White said, “and doing the other things that the new board has been very, very sincere in their campaigns. The community has validated their wishes.”
The future of the preschool program is uncertain, and is still up for discussion.
New board president Diane Arnold accepted White’s retirement, saying the board wanted to honor his decision to leave. “We are grateful for his leadership,” she said.
“I don’t want the community to think we are going to have these confrontations,” White added, “these frustrating debates…and we need to get back to what’s good for students.”
Mayor Greg Ballard issued a statement saying, “I appreciate Dr. White’s 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.”
The board will also honor the remaining 2 1/2 years on White’s contract, at an estimated cost of $800-thousand.