COLUMBIA, MO. (KMIZ)
Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Peter Stiepleman told the school board Thursday that he will retire at the end of the year.
Stiepleman said he planned his retirement to coincide with his oldest son's high school graduation. June 30 will be his final day.
In a letter to the school board, Stiepleman said he is donating $50,000 that he accumulated from unused sick days for the district. The money is being given for the CPS nature school, Japan Connection trip and COMOEd Future Teacher Program, according to the letter.
"I informed the Board of Education over 2 years ago that my eldest son would graduate high school in 2021," Stiepleman wrote. "I shared how he had joined me at West Boulevard as a kindergartner and that it was my plan to graduate with him -- how we'd walk off the stage together as graduates of the Columbia Public Schools."
"And that's what we will do," Stiepleman wrote.
Stiepleman also created a video announcement that was shared by the school district.
Board President Helen Wade said in a statement that the board will start the search for Stiepleman's replacement "in the coming weeks."
"As president of the Board, I want to say how valued Dr. Stiepleman is and that he has done a tremendous job as superintendent," Wade wrote. "We wish we could convince him to stay longer, but a promise made to his son and his family is a promise that should be kept."
Stiepleman started in CPS as a teacher and worked his way up to become superintendent in 2014. The announcement came near the end of the a special Columbia Board of Education meeting where bringing middle and high school students back to classrooms was the primary topic.
Board members thanked Stiepleman for his hard work and dedication to the district. Among the major issues during his time as superintendent were rapid population growth fueling a need for new school buildings and closing the academic gap between wealthier white students and other students.
Watch playback of the meeting in the window below.
Stiepleman has also seen the district through the COVID-19 pandemic, taking both praise and criticism for his decision to recommend that school start online-only. The school board approved the recommendation.
The controversy has not subsided after the board voted, on Stiepleman's recommendation, to allow elementary students to return to buildings this week. No timetable has been set for middle and high school students to return to their buildings.
A statement from Missouri Disability Empowerment, a group that wanted CPS and Stiepleman to change the IEP recording policy from last school year, said they are excited to continue the conversation with a new superintendent.
Stiepleman signed a contract last year through the 2022-2023 school year that is paying him $224,000 this year.
A spokesperson for CPS Michelle Baumstark said in order to find a replacement the board will put out an request for proposal for a search firm.
A search firm has been used to hire the last several superintendents.