ZACHARY — Warren Drake, superintendent of the top-ranked Zachary Community School District since 2002, announced Monday he is leaving Sept. 4 to take a new position in the state Department of Education.
Drake, 60, told principals and board members he has accepted one of five positions as “network leader” with the state department, reporting directly to state Education Superintendent John White.
Drake is the Zachary district’s first paid superintendent. Jerry Boudreaux and Glenn Brady served as unpaid interim superintendents as Zachary residents began forming the district.
The Zachary school district has been the state’s top-performing district for seven consecutive years.
The superintendent also has guided Zachary through a $129 million construction program, which has seen the district build a new elementary school, an early learning center and another elementary school scheduled to open next school year.
The bond construction program, approved by voters in increments of $39 million, $25 million, $25 million again and $40 million, also built a new middle school to replace an aging facility built in the 1950s, renovated and expanded other existing schools and added several new facilities at the high school.
Drake said he will remain with the district through the opening of schools in August and will continue to live in Zachary.
“My time in Zachary, laying the foundation for the state’s premier school district, has provided me with the opportunity of a lifetime. I leave this school district with a profound sense of gratitude and pride to have been a part of an institution and community steeped in excellence,” Drake said.
“It’s been a great 10 years, but the challenge of this new position will be a great one, too,” he said.
“Much like the challenge of crafting a new school district, Louisiana’s changing education system and the implementation of new curriculum standards and teacher evaluation methods offer exciting opportunities for innovative thinking,” Drake said.
Drake will lead one of five networks of school districts to assist them in implementing the “Common Core Curriculum” and a teacher evaluation system called Compass.
Drake said White has brought a new philosophy of networking to the state department, and five networks will be created around the state as the department moves to more of a support role.
Drake said he will be allowed to select 10 people to serve on a network team made up of specialists in literacy, math and special education to assist school districts in adopting new Common Core and Compass standards.
Although the districts in the network Drake will head have not been announced, the superintendent said he believes he will be over a group in southeast Louisiana.
“I will be in a school district every day,” he said.
School Board President Jannie Rogers said the board will discuss a search process for a new superintendent at a retreat in the near future.
“Although we are sorry to see him go, we wish Mr. Drake the best in his new role with the Louisiana Department of Education. We are proud to have him share knowledge gained in leading our district to impact the lives of other students within the state,” Rogers said in a prepared statement.