PALMER – With more than a dozen years under his belt as an educator, Palmer ISD Superintendent Alan Oakley has announced his retirement effective Dec. 31.

Oakley, who will have served four years as superintendent in September, submitted his letter of resignation to board members during a scheduled meeting Monday.

“I wanted the board to know in plenty of time so they can consider all of their options in the hiring process,” he said.

With his wife’s retirement this month from DeSoto ISD, Oakley said the couple is looking forward to “slowing down some and spending more time with the grandkids and our hobbies.”

That’s not to say he might not appear on occasion as a substitute in a Palmer ISD classroom if needed.

“I plan to stay in touch with our Palmer family,” he said of the close-knit relationship he’s had with the district, its staff, students and parents. “I’m a Palmer Bulldog.”

He said he and his wife of 37 years, Julie, will continue to live here. The couple has three adult children, four grandchildren and two more grandchildren on the way.

“This has been far more than just a job to me,” Oakley said. “It’s been a career for me (and) I want to stay involved in some way with the Palmer ISD family.”

The advance notice will allow him and the board to ensure a smooth transition.

“We’ll be discussing the process in the weeks and months to come as to how that transition will occur,” he said.

After a career in law enforcement, Oakley started out in education with Ferris ISD before joining Palmer ISD as an assistant principal at the middle school in July 2000. He was named principal the next year, serving three years before given an opportunity to serve as superintendent in Milford ISD in February 2004.

After then Palmer ISD Superintendent Larry Carson passed away, Oakley was selected from a field of more than 40 applicants to rejoin PISD as superintendent in August 2005.

Although his tenure with Milford was short, Oakley said he’s appreciative to the district for the experience he gained prior to rejoining Palmer.

“Milford was such a good experience for me,” he said, noting a school renovation as one of the projects he worked on while there.  “They’re fine people. I was there only a brief time, but it was a productive time.”

With both districts, he said he focused on building on the foundation left by his predecessors.

“You look at what was accomplished and build on that. You want the next person to come in and build on what you’ve accomplished,” he said. “You want to leave it better than you found it.”

He notes that Palmer ISD continues to post accomplishments in several areas.

“We’re moving ahead,” he said. “We’ve seen a number of accomplishments here and we’re proud of that.”

Relating to studies, the district has moved from a non-performing status with the Texas Education Agency to high on the state agency’s academically acceptable rating.

“We’re knocking on the door of being recognized as a district and that’s a direct result of the team effort here,” he said. “Palmer’s had a series of team victories, academically, athletically, you name it. There is a wonderful group of people who make this a really good district.”

Relating to finances, he cites the voter-approved passage of the tax rollback election along with fiscal management exercised by the district as allowing for several capital improvements and other projects to move forward.

“The board has been wonderful to work with,” he said, noting a number of its members are Palmer ISD alumni. “They’ve been so good to work with, so supportive. … They’ve been very good to allow me to manage the district. I’m very grateful for that and for having been given the opportunity.”

PISD athletic teams also have done well, with Oakley noting that a Title IX concern was successfully addressed.

“This district has become a part of me,” he said. “It’s a very time-consuming job, but it’s been a very rewarding job. … I think it’s a great place to be and I’ve been so proud to lead this district.

“We’ve done some really good things as a team,” he said.

E-mail JoAnn at joann@wninews.com