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Liverman announces retirement

Dr. Milton Liverman began his journey as a math teacher for Suffolk Public Schools 36 years ago. On Wednesday, he announced his plan to retire as the system’s highest-ranking employee.

After 10 years as Suffolk Public Schools superintendent, Liverman announced his retirement, effective June 30, on Wednesday morning.

“Every year for the past three years I’ve considered retirement, but there’s always been something I felt I needed to do first,” Liverman said. “I realized that would be the case for the rest of my life, and I feel like if I leave now I’m leaving the schools in a good place. We’ve become a leader in the area.”

Liverman spent all but one year of his academic career in Suffolk, serving as a high school mathematics teacher, school administrator, central office supervisor, coordinator and assistant superintendent before being made superintendent.

“He was a hard worker and a good one,” said Robert Baker III, who was a school board member when Liverman was assistant superintendent. “He was always very knowledgeable and factual with whatever he brought before us as a board.”

School Board Chairwoman Lorraine Skeeter was on the board when Liverman was brought in as superintendent, and said the reason he won their vote was because “he could give us goals and objectives, where he felt the system should go and a plan to get us there. He had a plan and as a board we were ready to see him implement it. He has reached that level now.”

When Liverman became superintendent 10 years ago, the school system’s salaries ranked among the area’s lowest, and only three of the 18 schools were accredited.

Under his watch, salaries have become more competitive and all schools in the system are accredited by state standards.

“Those were the biggest things on my agenda,” Liverman said. “We went from being the lowest paid to middle of the road, […] and moved from a small percentage of our schools having accreditation to all of them.”

Dr. Michael Debranski, a current School Board member, was principal at Southwestern Elementary School while Liverman was assistant principal there.

“I’m disappointed that he’s leaving now, because he’s an outstanding superintendent,” Debranski said. “He is probably one of the best administrators in knowing all aspects of the job. No matter what the problem, he was on top of it.”

Liverman gave credit to the school system’s employees for its successes.

“This is not about what I’ve done in the past 10 years,” Liverman said. “I’ve worked with a great team. They know my decision-making paradigm and execute it: Define a problem, look at options, choose what is best for the child and then what’s best for the employee.”

Liverman said that while not everything he wanted to complete is finished, he feels it is time for him to move on.

“I would have loved to build a new school, continue to close achievement gaps and see our employee salaries and benefits continue to become more competitive,” Liverman said. “But if you wait until everything perfect, they’ll end up wheeling you out feet first.”

“Ten years is a nice long tenure. I never looked as this as a legacy job. It’s my job to make a contribution to the system, move on and let others contribute.”

Liverman recommended that his replacement trust the people who are in place.

“They’re good at what they do,” Liverman said. “I’ve learned you can’t do everything yourself. Surround yourself by good people, give them a task and get out of their way.”

“I certainly have some mixed emotions about retiring,” Liverman said. “I love what I’m doing. I love where we are, and I love the people I work with. And ‘love’ is not word I use lightly.”

Liverman retires the same year as his wife, and while he said his future plans are still up in the air, he may take a more active role in the church, using his license as a Baptist minister.

“I do know I’ll be taking a vacation during the first two weeks of September,” Liverman said. “Otherwise, I’d show up here and be without a key to my office.”

The School Board will discuss its course of action to fill the position during a meeting on May 13.

“I really hate to see him go, but all good things must come to an end,” Skeeter said. “You expect these things, but when it happens reality can really step in. He’s been a hard worker and a great person.”