The 2022-23 school year will be Brian Coleman’s last as superintendent of Cary School District 26.
Coleman, who has been with the district for 33 years as a teacher, building principal and ultimately superintendent, announced his retirement at the school board meeting Monday.
School board President Deanna Darling said in a news release that the board was “extremely grateful” for Coleman’s leadership and was particularly thankful that Coleman had stayed through the pandemic period.
“What I truly appreciate about Dr. Coleman is his deep commitment to public education and the success of our district,” Darling said in the release. “His dedication speaks volumes to the content of his character.”
Navigating the pandemic over the past three years and “ever-changing guidelines” was one of the toughest periods of his career in education, said Coleman, who first was appointed as superintendent ahead of the 2008-09 school year.
The district administration encountered difficulties with parents who disagreed about COVID-19 protocols and held off holding in-person public meetings between September 2021 and March 2022 following an incident where police were called to a school board meeting over a group of unmasked community members.
The district met the pandemic’s challenges, Coleman said, by providing assistance to students and families including remote learning, lunch deliveries to students’ homes and important health protocols to keep students safe in and out of the schools.
Coleman said he learned how to prioritize the needs of students and to make decisions that “may not be popular with everyone” but nevertheless served the students’ needs.
“Together the district and its staff were able to face extraordinary circumstances and ever-changing adversity to meet the needs of out students and their families,” Coleman said.
Over the next few months, the school board will be seeking to partner with an executive search firm to assist in the process for finding and appointing a new superintendent, according to the release.
Coleman said he would work with the board and any new candidates to make sure the transition was as seamless as possible.
Coleman said it was a “good time” for the district to make the transition and he was hoping to spend more time with his family and grandchildren following his final school year.
The board approved his retirement plans, effective as of June 30 of next year. Coleman earned about $181,700 this past school year, according to the district’s annual compensation report.
“It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve in Cary School District 26,” Coleman said in a district news release. “I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to teach, lead, and serve in the great community of Cary in which my family and I will always call home.”
In his years with the district, Coleman said he viewed his success less as a series of accomplishments and more as a continuing and collective effort of the district administration to make qualified hires and find staff who “are committed to their work and care deeply for and love our students.”
One specific accomplishment Coleman pointed to was the reopening of Oak Knoll School in 2018 for early childhood education. Coleman was the principal of the school when it first closed in 2004 due to declining enrollment, Coleman said.