Richmond County schools aren't "broken."
Some things are working, and others aren't. But there is no reason why every school and every pupil in the county can't be successful, Dana Bedden said Monday after officially becoming Richmond County's next school superintendent.
Dr. Bedden and the school board agreed to a three-year contract, which guarantees him a base pay of $185,000 and totals about $215,000 once fringe benefits, annuities and travel allowances are added.
The 40-year-old father of three is leaving a small suburban Philadelphia school system, where he was superintendent.
The board and superintendent will sit down with the Georgia School Boards Association after Dr. Bedden starts work Aug. 1 and together establish three goals. For each goal Dr. Bedden meets, he will receive $5,000, making his contract worth a maximum of about $230,000.
He will be replacing Charles Larke, who came under fire for his large annuities and a contract that renewed automatically. Dr. Larke's contract totaled about $278,000 the last full year he was superintendent. Dr. Bedden's contract doesn't include a "rollover" clause.
In his first news conference, Dr. Bedden acknowledged the work that has to be done.
"If it's not working, be prepared to take a change in course of action," he said, cautioning that change will take time. "You cannot eat the whole elephant at once. We're going to take chunks out of the elephant."
Progress will be made until parents feel good about every school in the county, he said.
"The CSRA is Richmond County," Dr. Bedden said. "Richmond County is an economic engine. Education is part of economic development."
But the superintendent can't do it alone. It will take him, the school board, parents and the community, working as a team, he said.
"I also believe every day we're not making things better, we're losing a child," Dr. Bedden said.
When he begins the job, he said, he will look to see if people and resources are being used effectively. Some personnel might not be in the "right seat on the bus."
Board members, who unanimously approved the contract, said they are handing the reins over to Dr. Bedden, giving him control to establish his way of running things.
"He's the superintendent of schools," board Vice President Joe Scott said. "He sets the direction, and the board will go with the direction."
The board will support the new superintendent's decisions but will hold him accountable for meeting his three performance goals, Mr. Scott said.
Board President Jimmy Atkins said the three goals, although not set yet, will involve student achievement.
"The only thing we have left to do is roll up our sleeves and get to work," Mr. Atkins said.
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BASE PAY: $185,000
TRAVEL ALLOWANCE: (Standard for all senior school staff) $11,112
INCENTIVE PAY: Three incentives of $5,000 each for a total of $15,000
OTHER FRINGE BENEFITS: $8,000
MAXIMUM COST: About $230,000
LENGTH: Three years with no automatic "rollover" clause
BEGINS: Aug. 1
TERMINATION: Dr. Bedden waived his right to require seven votes to terminate his contract in favor of a simple majority and the state's fair dismissal rules.
Source: Richmond County Board of Education