KSD superintendent announces retirement

Julia Wunning-Zimmer, web editor

Dr. Thomas Williams, superintendent of KSD, announced his retirement to district principals and his administrative staff Jan. 10. According to KSD’s Press Release, he took office in 2009 and has worked with children for more than 40 years. Sending out an email to all staff employees, Williams said he will retire at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

In his note to KSD staff, he thanked them, applauded their work towards promoting educational equity and encouraged them to continue to provide quality education in Kirkwood schools. Williams also said he will move to Arizona to be with his family when he retires this May.

KSD sent this letter to the Kirkwood Community to publicize his announcement Jan. 10:


Dr. Tom Williams, the superintendent of the Kirkwood School District (KSD), is retiring at the end of this school year after serving children for more than 40 years, eight in the Kirkwood School Community. Williams announced his intentions to retire to the Board of Education earlier this month but formally communicated his decision to staff on Tuesday, January 10. His retirement will be effective June 30, 2017.


During Williams’s tenure as superintendent, he focused on early education and interventions to support all students by gaining community support to pass a $33.5 million bond issue in 2010 to add classrooms to provide kindergarten to all students in their home attendance area. The bond issue also provided funds for safety measures, three elementary gymnasiums and new science classrooms at both middle schools. A major focus for Williams was equity, which led to the implementation of tuition-free, full-day kindergarten in 2012 and the establishment of a 1:1 instructional technology program for K-12 students in 2014. In 2016, Williams launched the KSD Task Force – a group organized to develop strategies to eliminate the achievement gap for African-American students. “We must work together to close opportunity gaps and take shared responsibility in the academic, social-emotional, and physical needs of each of our students,” said Darnel Frost, Task Force leader and KSD Board of Education president. “We must hold ourselves accountable for the success of all students – and we must all work together if we’re going to meet the varied needs of our diverse learners.”


Since taking office in 2009, student enrollment has increased by nearly 700 students. Throughout that time, graduation rates continued to steadily climb and the District’s score on the state’s annual performance report improved. KSD consistently ranks among the top districts in the state by third party sources including: Niche.com, St. Louis Business Journal and US News & World Report.


“I believe one of the most pivotal moments in Dr. Williams’ service to our community was his strong and calming leadership during the transition of students from unaccredited school districts in 2013,” said Frost. “We were notified three weeks before the start of the school year that we would be receiving approximately 190 students in the transfer program. Dr. Williams’ leadership and consistent and calming messages to our staff, community, and new families led to a successful transition and a welcoming environment for our students from Riverview.”


Over the next several weeks, the Board will announce the process for determining their next steps in the search for a new superintendent.


Update: KSD superintendent announces retirement

After Dr. Thomas Williams, KSD superintendent, announced his retirement Jan. 10, KSD immediately began a search for a new superintendent. KSD sent out an email Feb. 1 to staff and families regarding the plan to fill the open position:

On Saturday, the Board of Education selected Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA) to assist in the search for the next Superintendent of Schools. HYA has conducted over 1,200 executive-level searches. One of the contributing factors to their success is how they gather input from the students, staff and community of the district they are working with.

The first step of input gathering is participation in an online survey. The search team will gather feedback about the most important qualities, skills and characteristics needed in the next superintendent. In addition to the survey, the search team from HYA will hold community and staff forums to hear, in person, your thoughts. Once they have heard from stakeholders, they will use the information collected to develop a Leadership Profile. This is the profile the search team will use to recruit our next superintendent!

Your voice counts. Please participate in the online survey and consider attending one of the upcoming forums.

The online survey is available now at: http://ecrasurvey.com/kirkwood

The open forums will be held Monday, Feb. 13 at Westchester Elementary at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 14 at North Kirkwood Middle School at 6:30 p.m. The new superintendent will be approved at the board meeting May 8.