ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams is retiring after serving the district for 14 years.
"This has been the joy of my life," Adams said. "I just see myself caring deeply about the kids of St. Louis and wondering how I can continue to support them. The mindset has changed around SLPS, it's not viewed as a failure."
Adams is retiring at the end of December, according to a press release from the district. The SLPS Board of Education is now looking for its next leader.
In the release, Adams mentioned marking milestones while he served as superintendent, including the passage of Prop S.
“It shows us that voters trust this Board and administration to continue to build momentum and accomplish great things for our students, teachers, and families. Having managed the elected board’s return to power and the great energy they bring to the position, I am leaving the District in caring and capable hands,” he said.
RELATED: Rain damages 35 SLPS schools
“This is truly the end of an era,” said Matt Davis, board president. “Today, SLPS is fully accredited, due to the leadership of our superintendent and his team. Dr. Adams has given his all to this District for 14 years and we are extremely indebted to him.”
During his years leading SLPS, Adams accomplished many things including doubling the size of Pre-K and increasing graduation rates, according to the district. He's helped the district climb out of a $60 million debt placing to where it is now with a $150 million surplus. For the first time ever students K-12 will receive backpacks filled with school supplies and a tablet or laptop.
"(The money) gives us an opportunity to provide those resources to families in need," Adams said. "This is a struggling city and (families have) lots of needs."
"He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders," Davis said. "A lot of students and families go through hardships. Dr. Adams wakes up everyday to try and help our community and that's what I respect the most about him."
He's developed programs that help students outside of the classroom by hiring nurses, social workers and counselor at schools.
“As I continue to serve the students, families, and staff of Saint Louis Public Schools over the next few months, I do so with a deep sense of pride and humility. We have come a long way since 2008, but there is still much work to be done,” Adams said in the release.
"It has been a productive relationship working with Kelvin Adams," said AFT St. Louis President Ray Cummings, "with changes in governance, accreditation, budget austerity we forged a partnership."
"Was it always perfect?" Cummings laughed, "of course not. But, the district did regain accreditation, we did survive budget cuts and furloughs, we did return governance to elected board. We could only accomplish those achievements working together."
"Working together with Dr. Adams and the elected school board we brought an historic contract that treats all of our employees fairly and won a significant victory with Prop S gaining an overwhelming 87% support by voters"
"I personally congratulate Kelvin Adams on a well-earned retirement," Cummings added, "we look forward to working with District leadership to rebuilding our system and standing up to efforts to privatize public school districts. "
Adams said he plans to take time off before finding another way to support the next generation of St. Louisans.
A nationwide search for the next superintendent will get underway in the next few weeks. Adams hopes the next leader can find a solution to the teacher shortage in the district. Right now there's 134 openings according to Adams.
"This country is going to have to think differently for teachers," Adams said. "How they incentivize them, get grant so they can go be teachers and quite frankly raise their salaries."