LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Over three decades, Dr. Greg Adkins has done it all. As the second longest serving superintendent, he’s held a vast array of positions within the Lee County School District.
He started as a middle school science teacher then climbed the ranks to assistant principal, and then principal. He’s also led the district’s human resources department and transportation operations. As superintendent, he’s gotten the district through some pretty tough times.
“I mean, we went through Hurricane Irma, which was at that time the longest closure we ever had to deal with,” said Dr. Adkins.
Until now. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the district to close last March, and then opened again last fall, allowing students to learn online or in-person. Even when the district switched to mostly in-person learning at the beginning of 2021, Dr. Adkins noticed students were still behind.
“The academic progress that you see, while it was good, it just still isn’t the same as the face-to face model,” he said.
On top of getting students back on track academically, Dr. Adkins hopes the next superintendent will focus on the district’s switch to neighborhood schools - scheduled to roll out during the 2022 - 2023 school year.
“That proximity-based student assignment plan - if you really start to look at the money that’s potentially available and providing equity across the district. That is something I hope they’re able to realize,” he said. “Work with our team to continue to build schools where we need to build schools.”
An issue that School Board Member Gwyn Gittens has brought up multiple times - specifically pushing for more schools and resources in the east zone. She’s gone as far as asking Governor Ron DeSantis to investigate financial mismanagement, to make sure schools in Lehigh Acres get a fair share at available funding.
Board members have gone back and forth on several issues. Adkins says the divisiveness reflects what’s going on throughout the country; but hopes the school board remains mature in their disagreements.
“We're not always going to have a 7-0 vote. It's best really to accept it, and try to get towards a solution that we all can all achieve, but if that's not the case, you take the vote, and you move forward,” he said.
And, even though the pandemic put Lee County students behind, Adkins remains optimistic. The Florida Department of Education gave Lee County School District a “B” grade in the latest data released for the 2018-2019 school year. But, the district’s chief academic officer says they can reach a grade a by the end of the next school year.
“He’s really hoping that we’ll be back on track to be able to get that by the end of next year or so. He’s still optimistic, and therefore, I am as well,” said Dr. Adkins.
After 30 plus years of long days and working many weekends, Dr. Adkins says he’s looking forward to spending more time with his wife and traveling again.