Barring an unexpected obstacle, the leader of the Griffin-Spalding County school system will be Bibb County’s next superintendent.
Curtis L. Jones Jr. was named the sole finalist for Bibb’s school superintendency Tuesday.
The 59-year-old has been superintendent in Griffin since 2009, working his way up the ranks there after 20 years in the Army. He told his system’s board members about the Bibb County job Tuesday.
A statement from three Bibb board members Tuesday read in part, “The board is in its final stages to bring closure to this critical task of selecting a chief executive to lead the Bibb County school district. ... The consensus of the board is that they are bringing in one of the best -- someone who has demonstrated success and who will bring the district team and community together to improve the schools, the district and the community by putting the needs of the students first.”
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Board members have been talking to Jones about the Bibb County job in recent weeks after two unsuccessful rounds of searches in the past two years. Board members also interviewed Jones in closed session Feb. 5 during a called school board meeting.
Jones applied for the job during Bibb’s first search round, but he subsequently withdrew his name from consideration. He did not apply during the second round.
He was one of four finalists for Georgia’s Superintendent of the Year, named in December. He also is president-elect of the Georgia School Superintendents Association.
“His strength is in building relationships,” said one person who knows Jones. “He’s very down-to-earth. He’s got a rapport with people. ... He’s just a man of character.”
Bibb County has had a series of interim superintendents since the school board bought out Romain Dallemand’s contract after just two years on the job. Interim Superintendent Steve Smith retired in December after filling in for 19 months, and Kelley Castlin-Gacutan was named to the interim post this year.
Jones graduated from Griffin High School in 1973, then attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, according to the Griffin-Spalding County website. He was an officer in the Army from 1977 to 1997, retiring as a colonel.
He returned to Griffin High in 1997, serving as the school’s JROTC instructor until 2001. He was principal of the high school from 2001-2005, then was assistant superintendent for administrative services until his unanimous selection as superintendent.
His most recent salary, for the 2013-2014 school year, was $162,000, according to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts.
The Griffin-Spalding County system had 10,626 students during the 2013-2014 school year. It was 46 percent white, 44 percent black and about 6 percent Hispanic. Nearly 76 percent of students qualified for free or reduced price lunch, according to the system’s website.
The system’s graduation rate went from 58.2 percent in 2011 to 63.88 percent in 2012, then to 66.63 percent in 2013.
Jones has a master’s degree in business administration from Albany State College, a specialist degree in educational leadership from Lincoln Memorial University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. He has completed the Army’s Command and General Staff School and previously held a certified financial planner designation.
His wife, the former Evelyn Kendall, is the principal at Anne Street Elementary School in Griffin. They have three children.
Time will tell how soon Jones could begin work in Bibb County. His contract in Spalding County provides for a 90-day notice. If he begins work in Bibb County by spring, though, he would have a hand in hiring for the next school year as well as work on the fiscal 2016 budget.
In Georgia, the law requires a window of 14 calendar days before the meeting at which a final vote is to be taken on a school superintendent. During those 14 days, school systems often negotiate a salary and employment package.
The school board has a called meeting Wednesday at Bloomfield Middle School. The only item listed on the agenda is a closed session to deal with personnel matters, pending litigation or property acquisition.
Staff writers Phillip Ramati and David Schick contributed to this report. Contact writer Oby Brown at 744-4396.