Houston County superintendent to retire

jmink@macon.comFebruary 14, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Robin Hines loves coming to work each day.

He likes the atmosphere. He likes the people. And, even though being the leader of the Houston County school system is no small task, he enjoys the duties.

Still, many educators say they know when it’s time to move on, and, for the superintendent of Houston County schools, that time is approaching. Hines, 53, will retire at the end of May after four years as superintendent and 32 years as an educator. He announced his retirement Friday to faculty and staff.

“I’ve been eligible for retirement for some time now, and I’ve been waiting for that lightning bolt. Everybody says you’ll know when it’s time,” he said. “Primarily, it comes down to family.”

Hines wants to spend more time with his loved ones -- his daughters and his grandson live in the Athens area and his son will attend the University of Georgia in the fall -- and he is excited to devote more time to his hobbies. A musician, Hines plays a variety of instruments and is a motorcycle enthusiast. He has been married to Kim Dilling Hines for 30 years.

“This is such a time-intensive job, and I have loved every minute of it,” he said. Still, his schedule has “made it problematic to be able to see (family) as much as I want to see them.”

After all, leading a school system is anything but easy. Hines inherited a school system that already was excelling, and he was tasked with continuing to move Houston schools forward.

“I think the system has always been a progressive system. It’s always been able to move forward, and he helped that to happen,” said Marianne Melnick, chairwoman of the Houston County Board of Education. “He’s had a very positive impact.”

The board will discuss the process for hiring a new superintendent Wednesday during a board retreat, Melnick said.

When Hines took the job, the district, like most school systems across the state, was at a financial low point. Still, for the fourth consecutive year, the school system has not enforced furloughs, which is a rarity statewide. It was an accomplishment made possible by conservative budgeting and protecting the general fund balance -- a tough process, but a satisfying one, Hines said.

And there have been other, recent challenges. For example, deciding whether to cancel school is always difficult, and rezoning is a stressful process, Hines said. Houston, like most districts in the region, has canceled school a few days this month due to inclement weather. Additionally, the board recently approved zone changes for some elementary schools, which drew some opposition from parents.

But, all in all, the job has been smooth, Hines said. He attributes the district’s success to his fellow administrators -- both on the district and school level -- the faculty, the staff, the school board and community leaders.

In addition to stable finances and no furlough days, Hines has been proud of Houston County’s instructional programs and the progress they have made. Over the past few years, Houston has continued to trump the state in test scores. Most recently, Linwood, Kings Chapel and Shirley Hills elementary schools were among the state’s highest performing Title I schools in 2013, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

One of the highlights of Hines’ tenure has been the opening this academic year of Edge Academy. Located in the Elberta Center, the academy targets high school students who are falling behind and in danger of dropping out.

“We’ve seen tremendous success come from that,” he said.

After all, Hines pursued a career in education because he wanted to make an impact on young people. He was inspired by the relationship he had with his own teachers and coaches.

A native of Thomasville, Hines began his career as a teacher and coach for Thomasville City Schools. Before becoming superintendent, Hines was assistant superintendent of school operations in Houston County, and he also served as principal of Northside High School.

“This system is running very smoothly, and our kids are performing at a high level,” he said. “I’ve been very happy. I love coming to work every day. This is the best school system anywhere.”

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