Superintendent John Downs Announces Retirement

Superintendent John Downs Announces Retirement
Posted on 09/22/2023


John Downs has announced his retirement from the Hallsville School District, effective June 30, 2024. Superintendent Downs has been employed by the district since 1997 and is currently completing his 27th year at Hallsville Schools. He began his educational career in Akron, Ohio, and transitioned to Hallsville after three years to become an elementary music teacher. Mr. Downs transitioned out of the classroom in 2002 to become the Lead Teacher, followed by Director of Curriculum & Instruction and then Assistant Superintendent. He has been leading Hallsville Schools as Superintendent since 2016. 

Mr. Downs holds a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University, a master's degree from Miami University, and an Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri. During his superintendency, he has served on the Missouri School Improvement Program Advisory Council and Regional Educational Laboratory Governing Board. He has also served as president of the Boone County Schools Mental Health Coalition and as a faculty member of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. Each year, he continues to mentor numerous teachers, administrators, and regional superintendents.

Under Downs' leadership, Hallsville Schools has experienced a noteworthy period of growth and progress. Mr. Downs led the development of the district strategic plan and oversaw a major revision to the district’s program evaluation system, setting clear goals and direction for the district’s future. He established new district improvement initiatives such as the teacher induction program and annual curriculum camp. During this time, the district received the Missouri Commissioner's Award for High Quality Professional Development, and Hallsville Intermediate and High Schools were named Exemplary Professional Learning Community Schools for promoting cultures focused on collaborative learning while effectively using data to increase student achievement. 

During Downs’ tenure, he has exhibited exceptional financial stewardship while supporting community priorities. The district has increased the operating reserve fund balance from a projected 11% in 2016 to an expected 49% in 2024 while maintaining an average building student-teacher ratio of 17.5:1 and implementing a successful one-to-one student mobile device initiative. The teacher base salary has also risen by $7,000 during his superintendency, representing a significant 21.9% increase, which helped attract and retain top talent in the district. 

In 2017, Downs played a pivotal role in the successful passage of the community's first operating levy increase in 30 years. Additionally, Hallsville School District secured overwhelming approval for two of the largest bond issues in its history, in 2018 ($7 million) and 2022 ($6 million). He has overseen both these critical infrastructure and facility improvements, totaling $6 million in 2019 and $11.3 million in 2023. In addition, Mr. Downs has prioritized school safety by investing more than $900,000 to create safer and more conducive learning environments.

Superintendent Downs expressed deep gratitude for the opportunity to serve the Hallsville community and reflected, “It has been an honor and privilege to serve our students, staff, and community for so many years. The Hallsville school community has been like a second family to me for nearly three decades, and the relationships I have made and developed over that time are incredibly important to me. It's comforting to reach the end of my career knowing the district is set on a trajectory for continued student success.”

The Board of Education will begin the search for a new Superintendent soon and intends to partner with a superintendent search agency to find the best quality leader for the district. 

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