Southwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Phil Downs has announced he will retire at the end of the 2021 calendar year.

Downs made the announcement at the Jan. 19 meeting of the SACS School Board. The district released a statement to that effect, noting that Downs’s education career spans 31 years.

Downs has helped to shape the district’s ongoing $175 million project upgrading and reshaping Homestead High School. He has helped to innovate virtual learning options that have been expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The privilege of serving as Southwest Allen County Schools’ superintendent continues to be a true honor and highlight of my career,” Downs said. “I am proud of what SACS has accomplished; grateful for the relationships and friendships that will transcend my retirement; and more importantly, I am confident that SACS will continue to prepare today’s learners for tomorrow’s opportunities long after I am gone.”

The district’s announcement explained that Downs’ decision was announced at the Jan. 19 meeting “with hopes to allow for ample time for the board to fill the role of superintendent and ensure a smooth transition.”

Downs was the Indiana Association of Public Schools Superintendents’ 2020 Indiana Superintendent of the Year.

He became SACS superintendent in 2014, upon the retirement of Superintendent Steve Yager, who took the SACS position in 2009. Downs joined SACS as assistant superintendent in 2010. Both Yager and Downs previously served in the Northwest Allen County Schools.

In Northwest Allen, Downs served as principal at Cedar Canyon Elementary and assistant principal and athletic director at Maple Creek Middle School. He began his teaching career in Fort Wayne Community Schools in 1989.

Upon his selection as Indiana’s top superintendent for 2020, Downs said, “Public school superintendents must take a broader view than our districts and become the clear, research-based voice for all our students. It takes courage, reveals character and sets a worthy example for others to follow.”

Downs earned four degrees from Purdue University-Fort Wayne and his Ph.D. from Purdue University. He continues to serve on the boards of numerous public service groups in Fort Wayne.

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