It’s been a roller-coaster week for the Bibb County school system. After a two-year search and three interim superintendents, the Bibb County Board of Education finally settled on a superintendent, Curtis L. Jones Jr. He comes our way via the Griffin-Spalding County school system, where he has served as superintendent since 2009.
On paper he looks like a good fit. But his system’s Adequate Yearly Progress scores, last taken in the 2010-11 school year, showed the system did not make AYP. That was due to one school’s failure to meet academic performance requirements. All the other 17 schools made AYP. Quite an accomplishment considering that in the 2009-10 school year, when Jones was named superintendent, four of the district’s schools failed to make AYP, including the system’s two high schools. He helped to turn that around.
The College and Career Readiness Index scores are a different animal. While Griffin-Spalding’s 2014 elementary scores (78.6) are 17.2 points above Bibb’s (61.4), the middle and high school scores are about the same. Still, congratulations to the Bibb board. That long season of discontent is over.
Also last week, the board was notified -- actually they had known for a week or more -- that former Superintendent Romain Dallemand is asking for a $10 million settlement. He charges the board with violating his severance agreement that was approved by all of the board members with the exception of Lester Miller.
Finally, long before the new superintendent can get his chair warm, Gov. Nathan Deal comes forth with his plan to take over failing schools. Fourteen of the state’s 140 schools deemed failing are in Bibb County. And while the governor’s move seems a bit rash, there is a method, we think, behind his madness. It may all be tied to the requirement for all school systems in the state to select one of three governance systems by June 30. Systems have to choose either to remain status quo, become a charter system or enter into an IE² (Investing in Educational Excellence) contract with the state. All but the status quo governance models have consequences built in if yearly student performance measures are not met.
But the governor’s move puts systems that may be thinking of going in the status quo direction on notice: There will be consequences other than the lack of waivers most systems have become accustomed to.
The governor’s proposal puts Bibb County interim Superintendent Kelley Castlin-Gacutan in an awkward position as she tries to guide the system into one of the three directions, knowing her replacement will soon follow and not knowing when the state Department of Education may come knocking.