The recent announcement by Lee County School District Superintendent Greg Adkins that he will retire in June is disheartening to many of us — the people who have worked with him and have observed the progress the district has made under his leadership.
By every objective measure, outcomes for students have improved markedly thanks to Greg and the team he has assembled.
Beyond his impact on the district’s performance, Greg has been an engaged, productive and innovative colleague to those of us who work across the educational spectrum in Southwest Florida.
All public reports suggest a subset of the district’s board have sought Greg’s removal based more on style than on substance. A persistent theme in their criticism — to steal a line from the classic 1967 movie “Cool Hand Luke” — has been a “failure to communicate.” Unfortunately, this drumbeat of micromanaging criticism obscures the overarching goal of serving students and the community. Greg’s service to this central goal has been profound and impactful.
It certainly strikes me that as the board seeks the next superintendent, every member must send the message that they will collectively set a policy agenda and then get out of the way and allow professional leadership to lead.
Beyond appointing Greg’s replacement, the board needs to focus on undoing the perception that chaos reigns at the upper level of Lee County Public School governance. Whether real or mostly perception, this is a harmful image to present to anyone who might question whether this is a good place to live and raise a family.
Since Greg’s impending retirement is now official, I urge all to thank him for his distinguished service and wish him the best in his next adventure. He has certainly earned both.
Michael V. Martin, Ph.D., is the president of Florida Gulf Coast University.