Named Bibb Countys acting superintendent by the school board late Thursday night, Susanne Griffin-Ziebart said Friday her priorities will be making sure all students are learning, preparing for the upcoming school year and planning next years budget.
On Thursday night, board members approved her for the temporary leadership role, which she will hold for 30 days or until board members choose an interim superintendent, whichever comes first.
On Monday, school board members approved a $350,000 buyout of Romain Dallemands superintendent contract. The deal also included accrued pension benefits and health insurance for him and his family until July 2014 or until he takes another job. Dallemand served as superintendent of Bibb County schools for two years.
Griffin-Ziebart, who has been the districts deputy superintendent of school improvement and redesign since 2011, said board members asked her to be acting superintendent, and she accepted.
I am excited to serve the district and the kids and to help through this transition until the board is ready to name an interim superintendent, she said at a news conference Friday.
Interim school board President Sue Sipe said she is very confident Griffin-Ziebart will be able to handle the responsibility of overseeing the district for the immediate future.
Board members plan to meet next week to discuss the next steps in choosing an interim superintendent, Sipe said.
Griffin-Ziebart declined to say whether she wants to be considered for the interim superintendent job, saying she prefers to concentrate on her immediate role as acting superintendent. She said she has enjoyed her role as deputy superintendent and having the chance to interact with principals and develop leaders within the district.
I am perfectly comfortable in the acting superintendents role, she said.
The school systems four deputy superintendents, including Griffin-Ziebart, briefly were in charge of the school system from the time Dallemand departed until late Thursday night when Griffin-Ziebart was approved as acting superintendent.
Board member Lynn Farmer said it made sense to look at the deputy superintendents to find a temporary leader.
The logical choice (was) one of the top deputies to hold things together while we find an interim, Farmer said.
Neither Sipe nor Farmer would say why the board chose Griffin-Ziebart.
Griffin-Ziebart is a 23-year veteran of Rochester Public Schools, where Dallemand was superintendent before he came to Bibb County. There, she has worked in various jobs, from elementary school principal to interim director of special education, according to a biography on the Bibb school systems website. Before coming to Bibb County, she was Rochesters executive director of school improvement and accountability.
Griffin-Ziebart was hired to work in Bibb County in June 2011, a few months after Dallemand became superintendent.
She has a bachelors degree in communication disorders from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, a masters degree in speech/language pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an education specialist equivalent in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
On Friday, Griffin-Ziebart credited Dallemand with putting programs in place aimed at boosting student achievement, such as literacy and math instruction, and professional staff development.
Griffin-Ziebart said she doesnt plan to return to Minnesota. However, with Dallemands departure, she acknowledged having to be ready to leave Bibb schools if the next superintendent chooses new administrators.
I would be prepared to stay if this district felt that I was a good match for what they wanted to move forward, but Id also have to be prepared to move on as well, she said.
During the transition, Bibb Countys school board, administrators and the acting or interim superintendent will need to work together for the students, Griffin-Ziebart said.
When were working well together, just like in a family, when the heads of the household are working well together, then the family feels secure, she said. They feel that theyre ready to take the risks and do the things they need to do in order to care for the kids.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.