Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher announced his retirement plans in a letter to the Board of Education.
Belcher will retire effective June 30, 2014 and will take a job as a faculty member in the University of Missouri College of Education. Belcher says that role will allow him “to stay connected with CPS through leadership development.”
Columbia Board of Education President Christine King says she’s disappointed to see Belcher leave.
"He has really turned things around in Columbia when it comes to our public school district," King says. "He is a great communicator, and he builds fantastic relationships in the community, and he really was on 24/7."
King points to the opening of Battle High School and the reorganization of Columbia’s secondary schools, along with the approval of bond issues in 2010 and 2012, as major accomplishments during Belcher’s time with CPS.
Last month, Barbara Peterson with the MU College of Education confirmed that Belcher has applied for the position of Assistant Teaching Professor of PK12 Leadership and Policy within MU’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and was the strongest candidate. Belcher also sent an e-mail to staff at CPS in December, notifying them that he was eligible for retirement and was investigating that option.
Today, Peterson wrote in an email that Belcher will start the job on September 1st. In a statement, Daniel L. Clay, dean of the MU College of Education, said he was excited to have Belcher join the school.
“(Dr. Belcher) brings a wealth of experience in educational leadership and will be a strong asset to the college. He is a highly respected visionary and leader in public education who has demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement. He will work closely with superintendents and principals around the state to further develop partnerships between the college and Missouri schools, as well as serve on doctoral committees, supervise graduate students and interns, and teach in our educational leadership program,” Clay said.
Belcher has worked in education for 30 years. He’s been superintendent in Columbia since 2009.
In the letter to the Board of Education (.pdf), Belcher called his time as superintendent the highlight of his career. He thanked the staff, and the community.
“This community loves its schools. It has been responsive in providing resources, support, and advocacy to move the school district forward. Public schools are the best expression of democracy. Indeed, the quality of a public school is a result of the expectations and mandates of its constituency,” Belcher wrote.
King says the Board of Education will discuss next steps at its meeting on January 13, including a possible timeframe for a replacement.