Steve Adams is leaving on a high note after seven years as superintendent of the Piper Public Schools.
New or renovated buildings for each school have been completed, the high school football and basketball teams went to the state tournament this year, and most importantly, academic performance has increased greatly, he said.
Just recently, Piper students received a 100 percent on preliminary results on high school state reading assessments, Adams said. Improving academic performance is a process that started with a renewed district emphasis on academics when the students were younger.
The Piper district has grown by 700 students in the time he has been there, now at more than 1,700. It has been projected to continue growing in the next decade. Besides renovating the school buildings, Adams also has led efforts to renovate the athletic complexes and offices. The latest project has been the renovation of the old Piper West school into a community center and early childhood education building, with office space.
Adams’ successor has not been named yet. The deadline for new superintendent applications is March 22, and the board may meet after that to select finalists for the position.
Adams will retire June 30, and he said he will start a second career in retirement working as a business development associate for a food service management company, Opaa, that now contracts with the Piper Public Schools. He said he would travel to other school districts to talk to them about adding the food service program. He will continue to live in this community and participate in events, he added.
After 33 years in education, including the last seven years at Piper, Adams said he is eligible for a Kansas Public Employees Retirement pension. He said he expected the new job in retirement to be less stressful and take less time, while still allowing him to enjoy the relationships he has built up over the years with other educators in the state.
Adams has seen a lot of changes in the education field over the years.
“Education has changed a great deal, in that when I became a teacher in 1980 in Abilene, Kan., I essentially was given the keys to my room and turned loose for 180 days with very little accountability,” he said. “Today there is much more accountability, there is much more support for teachers, there is much more support for students, and our results are much better than they were 33 years ago.”
At the same time, school finance remains a concern for almost all school districts, including Piper.
“In Piper, we’ve held our own and made very wise use of our money so we can still do the right things for kids, but it will be increasingly difficult for Piper, as it will for every school district in the state, to maintain what we’re doing,” Adams said.
“These are difficult times,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished.”