Houston County Superintendent David Carpenter will step down at the end of the school year, school officials announced Wednesday afternoon.
Carpenter’s retirement is effective May 28. Carpenter succeeded his brother Danny as superintendent in May 2007.
“It’s been an exciting three years, and I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to serve as superintendent,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter, 57, has worked in Houston County schools for 35 years. He was previously the executive director of elementary operations and served in administrative positions at Eagle Springs Elementary, Bonaire Elementary and Warner Robins High School.
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The school board will call a meeting later this month to determine a course of action in choosing Carpenter’s successor.
“I understand the decision. He’s been with the Houston County school system for 35 years,” said board Chairman Tom Walmer. “When the time’s right, it’s an individual choice. We would love to have him another year without a doubt. We’re grateful. God puts people in the right place at the right time.”
Other Houston school board members contacted Wednesday afternoon said Carpenter’s character was one of his strongest qualities.
“He’s always been a person who held himself and the school system to a very high standard,” said Toby Hill, the board’s vice chairman.
“He has a tremendous passion for Houston County, as many of us do. He was the right fit for the position,” said board member Marianne Melnick, who worked with Carpenter in various capacities over the years.
With his contract up for renewal in June, Carpenter said he had to consider whether he would continue to serve as the system’s superintendent. Ultimately, he decided it was time to move on.
“There was no second guessing, no anxiety, but peace with the decision best for me,” he said.
Carpenter has accrued two years of sick leave in the more than three decades he’s worked with the school system.
For now, leisure time dominates Carpenter’s post-retirement plans, including golf and travel through the western U.S., and abroad in Italy and other countries.
He said he may pursue other education-related endeavors later but has no definite plans yet.
“I may do stuff part-time if opportunities present themselves,” he said. “I won’t jump into anything just to stay busy. I want to do something I enjoy.”
During his time as superintendent, Carpenter dealt with his share of challenges, most recently, rezoning and budget cuts.
“In 35 years, I have not seen the economy the way it is, and it’ll be challenging in the coming year working on the budget,” he said. “I’m attacking this budget like I’m going to be here next year. I have a vested interest in the system.”
Carpenter began his educational career at 22 as a teacher and coach at Warner Robins Junior High, and later, Warner Robins High School.
“When you look back, 35 years seems like a long time. I look back on first day at Warner Robins Junior High, and it seems like it’s gone by in a hurry,” Carpenter said.
Leaders in Houston County said Carpenter’s leadership significantly impacted the community.
“His shoes will be hard shoes to fill. He’s been through difficult times with the school board and rezoning, and he’s shown outstanding leadership in making difficult times better for the people of Houston County,” said Ned Sanders, Houston County Commission chairman.
“We have worked closely with Mr. Carpenter on a number of projects,” said Ed Rodriguez, president of the Warner Robins Area Chamber of Commerce. “The chamber has long recognized that quality education is important to what our mission is.”
“People do make decisions on where they’re going to live based on quality education ... companies do make decisions of where to expand based on quality education.”
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.