SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After nearly 40 years at the Syracuse City School District, superintendent Jaime Alicea is retiring at the end of June. Before he leaves, he did one final interview with Newsmakers.

After moving to Syracuse from Puerto Rico, Alicea rose through the ranks in the district. He first started as a teaching assistant at Seymour Elementary School.

He became a teacher, then an administrative intern at Fowler High School, vice principal at Dr. King School, and principal at Seymour Elementary and Fowler High School.

In 2016, he was promoted to superintendent of schools.

When asked about his proudest achievements, Alicea said the improvement in the district’s graduation rate. When he took the top job in 2016, it was 64%. In 2021, it was 77%.

Alicea also talked about the district in the future, namely the planned transformation of the told Central Tech High School into a new STEAM school.

Alicea calls it “a school without zip codes.” The STEAM school, which means Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, will be open to students from the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County towns and villages.

He says he’s leaving to better support his aging parents in his native Puerto Rico but says he’s not retiring from the Syracuse community.