Retirements, personnel shifts on the way

Major leadership changes will be coming to the Richmond County school system this summer, brought on by retirements and reassignments.


"The loss of leadership within our school system creates a substantial void in knowledge, skills, talent and abilities," Director of Human Resources Norman Hill said in an e-mail. "Our combined administrative leadership retirements this year average slightly more than 35 years in tenure."

James Thompson and Pat Burau are among the top leadership on the way out.

Mr. Thompson, the executive director for special schools and services, is retiring. He formerly served as deputy superintendent and interim superintendent.

Mrs. Burau retired last year but came back on a part-time basis to be the special assistant to the superintendent. She previously was an assistant superintendent.

Both of their positions were part of a transition away from an organizational structure established by former Superintendent Charles Larke to a new structure established by Superintendent Dana Bedden.

But the leadership changes don't stop there. The heads of four key central office departments are also out.

Director of Special Education Sharon Harkrider is retiring with 35 years of service. Carol Taylor, the director of educational media and technology, which is responsible for overseeing technology purchases and installation, is retiring with 38 years of service.

"The leadership departures provide us with an occasion to celebrate the tenure of those that have made numerous contributions to our school system," Mr. Hill said.

He added that the changes allow officials to re-examine the school system's organizational structure and determine whether changes need to be made.

Dr. Bedden has also reassigned Director of Transportation Mike Shinn and Director of Public Safety Julia Porter-Stein to other departments. Mr. Shinn will retire in 2010.

"Reassignments offer us a better distribution of talent and skill within our school system," Mr. Hill said. "When this capacity is leveraged fully and effectively, good results occur. Our goal is to monitor these changes for positive outcomes and continuity of focus."

A number of principals also are retiring or changing jobs. Eight are retiring, and others are being transferred to other principal posts within the school system.

Most of the positions soon to be vacant are to be filled, Mr. Hill said.

The school system has established two initiatives -- a Leadership Academy and a Rising Stars program -- to train employees from within to climb the ranks so that they are prepared if they are promoted.

All of the school system's retirements were recognized at a special banquet Thursday night.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or