LeBrun, Fineran named finalists for Peach superintendent job

alopez@macon.comMay 28, 2014 

FORT VALLEY -- The two Peach County school superintendent finalists both have experience as top administrators in state public school systems.

The Peach school district released detailed information Wednesday to The Telegraph about the two candidates -- James LeBrun and Daryl Fineran.

LeBrun is the current superintendent of McDuffie County schools, and Daryl Fineran is an adviser for Wayne County schools. Additionally, Fineran served almost two years as Wayne County’s superintendent.

The Peach County school board plans to name a superintendent June 20 at a special called board meeting, according to the resolution approved this week in a 5-0 vote.

The next superintendent will replace Superintendent Joe Ann Denning, who is retiring.

Before settling on a new leader, the school board will host a public forum June 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Peach County High School, board Chairman Jamie Johnson said.

Efforts to reach LeBrun and Fineran for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday.

A former Peach County High football coach

Since working as a teacher and coach at Peach County High School in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Fineran has tried to return to Peach County at least twice. He applied for the superintendent position in 2011 and recently applied for an open assistant superintendent position, according to the application he submitted to the school board in April.

“The Peach County School System and Fort Valley have always held a special place in my heart,” Fineran wrote. “I am a turn-around school leader and I feel that with my extensive knowledge of Title I schools and expertise in school improvement, (I) can benefit Peach County. I can make a huge difference uniting the surrounding communities and improving both academic achievement and community support.”

As superintendent of Wayne County schools, Fineran was responsible for about 5,400 students and 775 employees. He managed a $50 million budget including capital projects and federal programs. He resigned from the position in December 2013 but has remained in Wayne as an adviser to the interim superintendent, his application stated.

“I successfully implemented a plan that enabled the school system to come in under budget in all departments, reduced millage, reduced furlough days, increased fund equity to 15 percent and ultimately resulted in no furlough days for employees during the next budget year (2014-2015) and should culminate with the lowest millage rate in over ten years,” Fineran wrote.

In his application, Fineran mentioned as a major accomplishment promoting a $25 million education special purpose local option sales tax, known as E-SPLOST, that garnered 70 percent of the Wayne County vote.

In a letter of recommendation, former Bulloch County Superintendent Jessie Shields credited Fineran with being sensitive to the needs of minorities and students living with poverty in his time as principal of Claxton High School in Evans County. In his application, Fineran wrote that he also sought equity in hiring when he was Wayne County’s school superintendent.

“In my first year as superintendent we hired more African-American teachers, counselors and other certified employees than the past four years combined,” Fineran said in his application.

A former Jones County superintendent

LeBrun’s experience includes five years as a high school principal in Milledgeville, five years as the superintendent of Jones County schools, five years as McDuffie schools superintendent and about four years as a classroom instructor.

“I have the skills, the knowledge, the experience and the desire necessary to be an exceptional leader for the Peach County School System and community,” LeBrun wrote in his Peach County application. “Open communications is important. Transparency is important. Dialogue is important. Positive morale is important. If you have teachers on your side, they will move mountains for you.”

As superintendent in McDuffie County, LeBrun has been responsible for about 4,300 students and 671 employees. He has managed budgets of at least $35 million, according to his application.

LeBrun cited fiscal effectiveness as one of his strengths during his five years in the job.

“We reduced budget expenditures from $35,311,543 to $30,994,626 with a slight increase in enrollment,” he wrote. “We did implement several furlough days and a reduced school calendar. However we did not lay any employees off. We reduced our total number of employees by 125 beginning with central office positions. This was done completely through attrition. We also consolidated schools and transferred positions as necessary.”

Ella Samuels, vice chairwoman of the McDuffie County school board, explained in a letter of recommendation that LeBrun excels in the area of school safety. Under his leadership, the school system established its own department of public safety and assigned an armed law enforcement officer to every school in the district, Samuels wrote.

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 478-256-9751.

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