Lee schools taps chief operations officer as interim leader during superintendent search

Kenneth Savage, who served as the district’s chief operations officer for two years,…

Lee schools taps chief operations officer as interim leader during superintendent search 1
Lee schools taps chief operations officer as interim leader during superintendent search 2

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Greg Adkins announces his retirement as Lee County School Superintendent

Lee County Schools Superintendent Greg Adkins announced his retirement on Friday, April 16, 2021.

Amanda Inscore, Fort Myers News-Press

The Lee County School District has tapped Kenneth Savage as its new superintendent to serve while the district searches nationwide for a permanent leader. 

Savage, chief operations officer for the district since 2019, will replace long-serving superintendent Greg Adkins, who is retiring this month. Savage’s first day is June 15.

“I believe there is no greater honor than to serve my home, the community of Lee County, and serve it well,” Savage said.

Savage said he wants to help employees focus on renewal and sustainability during his interim tenure.

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More: Greg Adkins announces his retirement as Lee County School Superintendent 

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“We as a district must be responsible for the ongoing dialogue on the issues that support our school system, most successfully serving the needs of our children, families and community,” Savage said. “This will be my primary goal during the interim period.”

Savage was approved to lead as interim superintendent in a 5-2 vote by the school board.

Board members Chris Patricca and Cathleen Morgan cast the dissenting votes. Both board members expressed concern over a clause on intellectual property in Savage’s contract.  

Savage beat out the district’s other finalist, Vickie Cartwright, superintendent of Oshkosh Area School District in Wisconsin. She received support from board members Patricca and Morgan in their rankings of both candidates. 

School board members met Monday and assigned each candidate a ranking of one or two ahead of discussion. In a consensus vote, Patricca later sided with five other school board members to move forward with Savage. 

Until a permanent superintendent is hired, Savage will run daily operations and oversee Lee’s more than 96,000 students and 13,000 employees among other duties. 

Savage took the oath of office and was sworn in as superintendent at Monday’s meeting.

Savage’s annual salary will be $209,000 not including benefits, according to his contract. 

In a section of his contract, Savage agreed to not apply for the permanent position. 

School board attorney Kathy Dupuy-Bruno said an addendum can be added to the contract that will allow the board to consider Savage as permanent superintendent pending a vote.

Similar to Adkins, Savage was a school administrator who emerged through the Lee County school district’s ranks.

Adkins also served as the district’s chief operations officer before being named interim superintendent. The school board eventually named Adkins as the permanent leader in 2015. 

Here’s more about Ken Savage

Savage led as school principal and assistant principal at all three levels for several different Lee schools. He also was named Florida’s Principal of the Year in 2018.

From 2016 to 2018, Savage took on a district role working with principals at turnaround schools in Florida’s differentiated accountability program that seeks to improve state school grades. 

He oversaw many schools that revived their state grades from failing status, according to his resume.

Savage also served at the state level in the Office of the Chancellor K-12 Public Schools where he worked in the executive leadership cabinet. 

Prior to his start in Lee Schools, Savage worked for Alachua and Duval counties where he served as a teacher, department director and athletic director. 

In an interview with The News-Press prior to Savage’s appointment, Adkins said he hopes the interim and next permanent superintendent will come together with the district’s governance team and school board.

“I always tell everybody they’re going to go through a honeymoon, and take advantage of that honeymoon, set goals together, just like I just talked about, and then work toward those goals and really continue to focus on the work,” Adkins said. 

From the classroom to the superintendent’s office, Adkins has spent 33 years of his career in Lee schools. 

“You’re going to have people that are going to pull you this direction, in that direction,” Adkins said. “If you keep your compass set on what’s best for kids, you’re going to be just fine.” 

Searching for the next superintendent 

Lee County’s school board will select a firm June 21 to search nationwide to find a permanent superintendent. 

Four search firms are in the running for the job that will help find candidates for the district’s consideration. 


The search for a permanent candidate and selection is expected to take about six to nine months, according to the district. 

Rachel Fradette is an education reporter for the Naples Daily News. Follow her on Twitter: @Rachel_Fradette, email her at rfradette@gannett.com.

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