Mead School District superintendent Tom Rockefeller will retire at the end of the school year, the district announced today. He has served as superintendent for 13 years.
"I"m going to be 63 years old and I'm ready to retire," Rockefeller tells the Inlander. "I've got kids and family I need to spend time around."
Prior to taking the job at Mead, Rockefeller was superintendent in Pullman School District for six years until 2006.
In his resignation letter to the Mead school board, Rockefeller points to successful bond measures in 2015 and 2018 to replace Northwood Middle School and remodel Midway & Shiloh Hills. The district also plans on opening a new elementary school, middle school and a stadium for sports and performing arts.
"As I walk away and retire from my dream job I do so with confidence the Mead School District is well positioned to continue its tradition of providing the very best learning opportunities for all students," he wrote.
In a phone call with the Inlander, he expressed frustration that initial news stories of his retirement have linked his retirement to a scandal involving Wesley Perez, a Mead High School Spanish teacher charged with having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. He strongly denies his decision to retire has anything to do with that teacher and says he's "stunned" the connection was made.
"Maybe that's another good reason to retire: Dealing with that kind of stuff," he says.
The school board will search for a replacement superintendent. The vacancy will be posted Feb. 7, with the district hoping a new superintendent will be hired by mid-April. The community can offer their input in what they're looking for by completing this survey.
As for Rockefeller, he plans on staying in the Spokane area when his resignation goes into effect on Aug. 31.
"I'm retiring," he says, "because it's time."