York City superintendent to retire at end of school year

York City Schools Superintendent Eric Holmes gives an update on his district during a news conference regarding the Campaign for Fair Education Funding at the York City School administrative building in York City, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Eric Holmes is retiring from his position as superintendent of York City schools, he announced at Wednesday's board meeting.

After six years leading the district, Holmes plans to retire effective June 30, he said Wednesday, March 20.

"We have a lot still to accomplish, and I'm not done yet," he said.

"It's full steam ahead with all of our initiatives," he added, joking, "I'll get sentimental in June."

Board President Margie Orr made the announcement of Holmes' retirement and said he was retiring to enjoy some of his younger years and be with his family.

Holmes went on medical leave in November, district spokeswoman Erin James said at the time. Assistant Superintendent Andrea Berry stepped in as acting superintendent from Nov. 5 through Feb. 1, when Holmes returned.

More:York City superintendent on medical leave until February

Holmes was named superintendent July 1, 2013, according to the district website, but his 31-year career with the district began as a high school social studies teacher.

In six years, he was promoted to assistant principal and moved through various other leadership roles before becoming the district's 14th superintendent, the website states.

According to the district, he has a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Penn State University, a master's in educational administration from Loyola College in Maryland (now Loyola University Maryland) and a doctorate in urban educational leadership from Morgan State University.

Accomplishments: During his tenure, students reached new benchmarks, meeting or exceeding the growth standard on every state assessment in state evaluations for the 2017-18 school year.

The Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System measures how much growth students have had from one year to the next in addition to traditional achievement standards, and it was the second year the district saw growth.

He saw the district add a STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, arts and math, academy through 10th grade and implement districtwide looping for K-8 schools — allowing teachers to work with students for more than one year to ease transitions.

More:State report card: York City district excels in growth; Central York, Dover struggle

Holmes also was vocal about fair education funding and fought for legislative changes to improve funding for the district's schools.

In this file photo, York City School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Holmes gives an update on his district during a press conference regarding the Campaign for Fair Education Funding at the School District for the City of York Administrative Building in York City, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

York City students are "just as intelligent, talented and capable as any group of Pennsylvania students," and they don't need anyone making excuses for them, Holmes said last May.

"But they do need an education system that allocates resources equitably so that every student can meet his or her potential," he added.

More: York County school administrators testify in favor of more education funding

More:Coalition: York City district is Pa.'s most underfunded per student

Holmes also helped see the district through a state-mandated recovery plan that began in the 2015-16 school year. The district plans to apply to end its financial recovery status this summer.

Teaching and leadership: According to the district website, Holmes served in a number of other teaching and leadership roles over the course of his career.

He was an adjunct professor at Shippensburg University, the website states.

Holmes serves on the board of directors for Martin Library and Junior Achievement and is an advisory board member at the Byrnes Health Education Center and Penn State York, according to the district.

Gratitude: George Fitch, principal of district academic and behavioral intervention program Cornerstone, led the board, visiting staff and community members in an exuberant round of applause following the meeting.

“Give it up for Dr. Holmes!” he shouted.

Holmes expressed his gratitude for the school board, administration and teachers and praised them for their dedication to students.

"It’s a team effort, and that’s the only way we would be able to accomplish our goals," he said in an interview after the meeting.

Holmes said his focus for the next three months will be on providing a premiere educational opportunity for students, "and that will remain the focus of this district for years to come."

Orr said Holmes will be missed and that he's done "a wonderful job for this district." She expects discussions on finding his successor to begin next month.