LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke is reflecting on the past two years, as he gets ready to retire from the district on Wednesday.
He regrets he couldn't bring the divided school board together, and calls that the biggest challenge for incoming superintendent, Dr. Nancy Graham. "One regret would be that I was not able to really pull all of that together. You look back on that and say well that was a missed opportunity or maybe you look back and say it just wasn't feasible given all the circumstances," he says.
When asked to describe his feelings about his last day in one word, Burke said "nostalgic." He says he'll miss the staff the most, but he won't miss keeping up with emails and preparing for school board meetings.
Burke says he's proud of his active work in the community and putting a greater focus on minority students. He also spoke about the positive FCAT scores and new school buildings in needy communities.
But he says he regrets that he didn't have better communication with school board members.
Burke's also leaving under a cloud of controversy, with a state investigation into some of his actions still ongoing. He says, "I don't really have any great fears about it or anything like that but, it would be nice to not have it hanging out there. That's just a reality of it."
Burke says he does not plan to attend Dr. Graham's swearing in ceremony on Wednesday night, but will speak with her at least one more time before she takes over.
We also asked him about the two sometimes controversial administrators he brought to the district, Dr. Deedara Hicks and Dr. Alberto Rodriguez.
Their jobs will be in Dr. Graham's hands, and Burke believes they want to stay in the district and continue the work they started.
Burke says when he retires, he plans to focus his time on his wife's health, visit family, and may get into some education consulting work. He says he has not applied for any other jobs, and will likely move to Brevard County.