INDIANAPOLIS – This will mark the final school year for IPS Superintendent Dr. Eugene White, who stands to make nearly $800,000 in a retirement deal.
White made a brief announcement Tuesday night announcing his intention to retire effective April 5. The Indianapolis Public School Board Commissioners accepted his decision and thanked White for his service.
“At the end of the workday on Friday, April 5th, I will retire from the IPS school district,” White told the board. “There’s been speculation, but this is a decision that’s a heartfelt decision and I’m just thankful for the privilege of serving the young people of this community.”
Board president Diane Arnold said they are prepared to pay White nearly the entire balance of his remaining contract, which runs until 2015. Though negotiations are not yet final, Arnold said White made roughly $374,000 a year when factoring in benefits, so he would likely receive nearly $800,000.
“We’re very grateful for his leadership. We think there’s been a lot of progress, but this is a new board and I believe that he was very gracious and understanding that new boards have new visions,” Arnold said.
“He wanted to honor us as much as we wanted to honor his request to retire,” she added.
“This is probably a good settlement, and it’s not about hassling. We will satisfy the agreement of the contract and we will go forward,” White said.
Fox59 had previously learned that White didn’t plan to complete the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2015.
White joined IPS in July 2005 after serving 11 years as superintendent of Washington Township.
“It has been a privilege to work on behalf of IPS students and to partner with our parents, community and school staff,” White said. “We have accomplished much in the last seven years and I am proud of the progress we have made.”
During his tenure at IPS, White created the district’s full-day kindergarten program and reduced the dropout rate from 36 percent in 2007 to about 18 percent in 2012. The graduation rate also improved from 44 percent in 2005 to 65 percent in 2012.
White spearheaded efforts to reform music and athletic programs and created four district secondary magnet programs.
In recent years, criticism toward White mounted in response to slowing improvement and White’s resistance to some reforms, which included transferring administrators from failing schools instead of replacing them.
In 2011, the State Board of Education voted to take over four struggling IPS schools, putting them in the hands of private operators. IPS has also lost thousands of students to charter schools and a few hundred more to school vouchers to private schools.
Despite the recent criticism, White said it wasn’t until the latest IPS school board election in November, in which three new members were voted in, that he realized he no longer shared the same vision as the board.
“That is definitely proof that the community wants to pursue those kind of reforms and I think that, for the good of the district we want to support that,” White said. “It’s almost like a dance. You get coordinated with each other. They will select someone who will definitely be in step with their vision.”
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress,” Arnold said. “But I think as Dr. White said, we’re ready to kind of take it to the next level.”
White received the second of two Indiana Superintendent of the Year awards while at IPS (2009) and was the 2007 National Association of Black School Educators Superintendent of the Year.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard issued the following statement regarding White’s retirement:
“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.”