Bibb school superintendent session draws crowd

mstucka@macon.comJanuary 9, 2014 

If a crowd Thursday has its way, Bibb County’s next school superintendent would be a leader and a uniter. The perfect candidate also would be a whiz at finances and technology who could hit the ground running.

About 75 people attended a school board listening session at Central High School to hear ideas for the next superintendent, who would become the system’s first regular superintendent since the school board bought Romain Dallemand out of his contract last February. Some speakers, perhaps thinking of Dallemand’s controversial run in Bibb County, asked if the worst candidates could be avoided.

“Let’s do a very thorough background check,” suggested speaker Brigitte Molen, drawing the discussion’s first applause. She suggested asking not just school officials but people in the community and parents of students about how candidates performed in a candidate’s previous jobs.

While several people suggested the new superintendent should know Georgia education and Georgia values, several staff members suggested looking closer to home.

“We need you as a board to believe that our people here are just as smart and just as bright as all those people sending in the resumes that you don’t know anything about,” said Janice Flowers, the Bibb school system’s GEAR UP director.

School board member Susan Sipe, co-chairwoman of the superintendent search committee, told The Telegraph she would like the board to take its time to find a candidate who could draw a unanimous vote from board members. She said interviews could begin in April or May.

Speaker Charles Krauss suggested finding a way to fold interim Superintendent Steve Smith into a copy machine so they could have a copy of the perfect superintendent. Smith is scheduled to leave the system this summer.

Separately, administrators announced the results of a survey that mostly polled parents and teachers. The survey generally shows strong improvements. In July, just 18 percent of people surveyed said the system’s administration provided effective leadership. That completely flipped, with 84 percent saying so in December. The administration also was perceived to support school needs more, moving from 18 percent approval to 76 percent approval. Perceptions of school safety and discipline also surged upward.

Other areas remained weak, with survey takers saying teachers weren’t good communicators. They also said the system's technology wasn't improving, but an administrator said technology infrastructure problems are getting fixed now to allow further improvements. A growing majority of parents also don’t like the length of school days, which are longer than required by law.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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