Hillsborough County schools superintendent announces retirement

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The superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools is retiring.

Jeff Eakins has been in command of the eighth-largest district in the US for the last four years.

He says his decision to retire is strictly about what is best for his family, which is going through a difficult time in Ohio.

He will give up his post at the end of next school year, but his early announcement allows the school board to begin the search for a replacement right away.

Since Eakins took over for Mary Ellen Elia, he says the district has seen the number of failing schools drop (from 17 to five), graduation rates increase, and the budget become balanced.

"[We were] really focusing on those areas that help this community thrive," he said. "Graduate more students, help them be more prepared for the workforce, have one of the highest four-year graduation rates of any district in the state and making sure students are prepared. That is some things we can be very very proud of."

Because Eakins is leaving at the end of his contract, the board will not have to pay him anything more than his salary for next year.

The board has not said how widely it will search for a replacement.