Minneapolis Public Schools is losing a key administrator.

Michael Thomas, chief of academics, leadership and learning, was tapped last week to be superintendent of Colorado Springs School District 11.

It seemed just a matter of time before he'd land a district's top job. Thomas was a finalist in recent years for superintendencies in the Hopkins and Robbinsdale school districts and served briefly as Minneapolis' interim superintendent before Ed Graff took the helm.

"I have been grateful for Michael's leadership and the supportive social and emotional learning focus he brought to his work," Graff said last week in a statement. "All of us at Minneapolis Public Schools congratulate him and wish him well in this next adventure."

Thomas was quoted in the news release as saying: "I am grateful to have served Minneapolis Public Schools for the past seven years and am hopeful about where the district is heading."

He was out of the office late last week and unavailable for comment.

As chief of academics, leadership and learning, Thomas worked successfully in recent years to minimize turnover among school principals and was a point man for the district's response to a state report on graduation rates. Thomas noted then that while a high number of English language learners and students with disabilities struggle to graduate in four years in Minneapolis, the school district's seven-year graduation rate had risen to 73 percent in 2017.

In 2016, community members took to board meetings, Facebook forums and e-mail to tout him as a potential Minneapolis superintendent.

At the time, Thomas spoke with the Star Tribune about a career that began with being a social worker determined to keep black students from falling into special education programs at a school on St. Paul's East Side.

He went on to be a principal and administrator in the Osseo Area Schools before taking a job in the Minneapolis district.

"Thomas has extensive experience at all levels of the K-12 spectrum," a Colorado Springs district news release said last week.

At the time, he'd yet to negotiate a contract, including a start date, with his new district.

The central Colorado Springs school system has 27,544 students and is 49 percent minority, compared with 36,357 students and a 66 percent minority population in Minneapolis.

"Though I will miss this community greatly, I am forever changed for the better having been a leader in Minneapolis Public Schools," Thomas said. "My family and I are excited for the next chapter in our lives."