By Associated Press - Wednesday, December 6, 2017

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - The Tupelo Public School District is looking for a new superintendent.

Dr. Gearl Loden announced his retirement at the district’s Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday after six years in the post.

Multiple media outlets report his retirement will begin following the current school year.

During Loden’s tenure, the district’s graduation rate rose from 72.4 percent in 2012 to 86.6 percent in 2016. The district also passed a $44 million bond issue with 86 percent support by the community. The money has been used to make improvements, upgrade security and technology and build FEMA-grade storm shelters across the district’s school campuses.

Prior to arriving in Tupelo, Loden served the same position with the Amory School District.

Loden will be difficult to replace, said Board President Eddie Prather. But announcing now, he said, gives the board time to find a successor in an orderly way.

Prather said the board will begin its search for a new superintendent as soon as possible. He said the board will meet later this week with leaders of the Mississippi School Board Association, who will be helping with the search.

“We will be able to talk more about the search process after our meeting this week. Seeking input from the district’s various constituencies will be part of the process,” Prather said. “We believe the district is well-positioned to attract a large number of highly qualified applicants.”

Prather said the board will specifically be looking for an individual with strong leadership skills, proven academic success and the ability to work with a diverse community.

Loden said he plans to help with the transition as much as possible.

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