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UPDATE: Nick Boren, Columbia deputy schools superintendent, announces retirement

Friday, March 21, 2014 | 10:50 a.m. CDT; updated 2:33 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 24, 2014

*CLARIFICATION: Nick Boren's designation as deputy superintendent for Columbia Public Schools was in addition to his responsibilities as chief operating officer. Whether a person will be hired to handle the duties of chief operating officer or whether those duties will be divided among other administrators is still to be decided.

UPDATE: This article updated Friday afternoon to include comments from Nick Boren, Columbia School Board President Christine King and Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Jolene Yoakum.

COLUMBIA — Nick Boren, the deputy superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, announced his retirement Friday.

Boren, who has worked in education for 29 years, will retire effective June 30, according to a district news release.

"It has been my distinct privilege to serve the students, faculty, staff and parents of this school district," Boren said in the release.

Boren has been in the district's No. 2 job since 2007 after serving as superintendent of South Callaway R-II Schools in Mokane. While at South Callaway, he served as assistant superintendent, director of transportation, technology coordinator, agricultural education teacher and FFA adviser. 

Boren's areas of oversight for the Columbia district were transportation, food services, technology, business and building services, according to previous Missourian reporting.

*In an email late Sunday, Peter Stiepleman — assistant superintendent for elementary education who will become the district's superintendent this summer — clarified that over time some departments began reporting directly to the superintendent. Boren was named deputy superintendent so he could be the point person if Superintendent Chris Belcher were out of town or otherwise unable to act.

"In terms of Dr. Boren's chief role of overseeing safety, busing and facilities, I am working with the Board of Education to establish an organizational chart," Stiepleman said. "We may choose to hire a COO again, or we may choose to distribute those responsibilities ... I have set a deadline of May 1 to have that completed."

During Boren's tenure, he developed about $250 million in school improvements, according to the release. He also oversaw the transition to a three-tier bell schedule in 2012.

When Boren, 51, became the district's chief operations officer, he said he was excited to take the position because Columbia is such a progressive, forward-thinking community.

"The same is still true today," he said in an interview. "The community has supported us daily during my seven years here. Every year we are gaining more respect for our innovation and commitment to quality education."

Boren said that there is never a good time to step away from what you love to do but that this was the right year to retire.

"I have been in the business for 29 years," Boren said. "This was the year I was eligible for retirement, and I am ready to spend more time with my family. It all came together that this was the right time to retire."

Although Boren said he hopes to stay connected to the school business world, he is excited to also spend more time outside, hunting or fishing.

"Believe it or not, I’m an avid motorcycle rider, too," he said.

Boren said a bright star in his time with the district was construction of Battle High School. He oversaw purchase of the land and the 33 months of construction.

"Not many people in my role get to be involved in a $75 million construction project," Boren said. "It really was a cradle-to-grave process for me."

Christine King, president of the Columbia School Board, said that Boren has been great to work with and that she will miss him as a staff member in the district.

"For me, he was very knowledgeable about construction, facilities and transportation," said King, who started her board service in 2009. "He understood what we needed to do in meetings if we had different types of motions on the table. … That stuff is really important when you’re running a board meeting in public."

Jolene Yoakum, assistant superintendent for secondary education, said Boren’s background in construction helped the district move forward in the facility projects he helped coordinate.

"His strong relationships with community and staff have really helped us move at a very fast pace to fulfill our facility, transportation and maintenance needs so that we can have the best facilities for our kids to be educated in," Yoakum said.

"His background knowledge helped in working with government agencies or contractors," she said. "He really understands what they are saying and can quickly move forward."

Yoakum said Boren’s position will need to be filled by someone who has similar knowledge.

"Dr. Stiepleman has great knowledge of my role," Boren said. "I have full confidence and trust as he and the district move forward."

If he could give his successor one piece of advice, Boren said it would be to hold your head high.

"Challenges will no doubt confront you," he said. "But to be an educator allows you to make the world a better place one child at a time. I’m proud to have done this for 29 years."

Missourian reporters Caroline Bauman, Christa Corrigan and Kevin Modelski contributed to this article.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.


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