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Bedden was busy until end

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His last day on the job, Richmond County schools Superintendent Dana Bedden sat in a mostly bare office Friday, reflecting on his past three years and how they were ending in a flurry of activity.

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Dana Bedden, the former Richmond County superintendent, packs up his office as Dr. Carol Rountree (left) and Missoura Ashe wait to take items he will leave behind. Though he didn't accomplish everything he set out to do, Bedden says he's helped make the system more proactive.   Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Dana Bedden, the former Richmond County superintendent, packs up his office as Dr. Carol Rountree (left) and Missoura Ashe wait to take items he will leave behind. Though he didn't accomplish everything he set out to do, Bedden says he's helped make the system more proactive.

Remarking specifically on how he had responded to three recent incidents at Glenn Hills High School -- accusations that a bookkeeper stole activities funds, the principal's arrest on a DUI charge and a yearbook's depiction of students as criminals -- Bedden said he's now a firm believer that "long goodbyes become messy."

"Now I understand why someone came up with the idea of a two-week notice," he said in jest.

Bedden, who has worked in Richmond County for nearly four months since announcing he would take a superintendent job in Irving, Texas, left the district Friday in the hands of interim Superintendent James Whitson.

Whitson isn't seeking the job long term but could fill it for as long as three months. Though some school board members had hoped to have a new superintendent before the next school year starts, that might not happen now.

"My thoughts are we would -- best case scenario -- start (with a new superintendent) right about as the school year starts, but it may end up being a couple of weeks into it," said board member Jimmy Atkins, noting that candidate interviews likely won't start until next month.

Atkins said he doesn't want the board to drag its feet, but he said the system's situation is different than it was in 2007, when there was a push to get someone in quickly to reform it.

"I just don't feel the sense of urgency (to select a new leader) that there was three years ago," he said.

Bedden said Friday he thinks he has helped transform the system from one that was mostly reactive to one that's proactive.

"People do tell me the system is better than it was," he said, noting how he always focused on the successes of the system and not past failures or area misconceptions. "Richmond County isn't as bad as some people portray it."

On Friday morning, he kept busy responding to community complaints about the former Glenn Hills bookkeeper, who avoided prosecution by agreeing to resign and pay restitution on $14,400 that went missing. Bedden said he felt good about his decision, noting that it got the money back quickly.

"I bring closure in taking care of the children before walking off into the sunset," he said.

It was a sunset he didn't intend to meet after just three years. He acknowledged Friday that he initially intended to stay in Augusta for at least five or six years. He touts rising graduation rates and test scores, but allows that he didn't stay long enough to accomplish all he wanted.

He said his goal was to bring the system to an 80 percent graduation rate. The system's rate rose from 63.8 percent in 2008 to 70.4 percent in 2009.

He said he also wanted to expand academic programs, including offering Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs at Cross Creek High School.

Bedden said stalled contract negotiations with the school board led to his leaving.

He said the negotiations lasted a year, the biggest sticking point being a disagreement about whether performance pay should be included in his contract. Bedden said he opposed having the $15,000 be contingent on him meeting certain goals.

Bedden said the performance pay option had created too much controversy in the past, and he instead asked that the $15,000 be included in his base pay, raising it from about $190,000 to $205,000.

He said he also asked for an additional $15,000, but only to be received once all workers' furlough cuts were restored. Ultimately, Bedden said the board couldn't come to a consensus.

Looking back on it all, he said, "I have no ill feelings. I think things happen for a reason."

Comments (15) Add comment
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jessievinntura
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jessievinntura 06/19/10 - 07:06 am
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I bet he was busy-----trying

I bet he was busy-----trying to get packed up and loaded out while trying to keep the rest of the house made of cards from falling on top of him!

beboisme
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beboisme 06/19/10 - 07:18 am
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Bedden did get smacked pretty

Bedden did get smacked pretty hard with these issues upon his departure. I don't believe it will slow him down as he gets on with his new adventure in Tx. Good luck Dr. Bedden

cleanup
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cleanup 06/19/10 - 08:51 am
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Oh, I believe the upcoming

Oh, I believe the upcoming subpoenas and the articles forwarded to Texas will do more than slow him down. He's like the bookkeeper, free to go screw another school system up. Good riddance.

lylagirl
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lylagirl 06/19/10 - 08:53 am
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You are so right...things do

You are so right...things do happen for a reason....Whew!!!!!

chadwick323i
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chadwick323i 06/19/10 - 09:19 am
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I guess Dr. Frazier can't

I guess Dr. Frazier can't apply for the job. If he got it, maybe he can remove his reprimand.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 06/19/10 - 08:33 pm
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The superintendent did a

The superintendent did a horrible job. Graduation rates went up. Test scores improved. Good riddance.

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 10/19/12 - 03:10 pm
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..

..

cleanup
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cleanup 06/20/10 - 08:06 am
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Tell me what Bedden

Tell me what Bedden personally did to increase grad rates (slightly), and improve test scores (which is vague, because some test scores went down). What he DID do was lower teacher morale, dummy down county curriculum, continue to play racist/nepotic favorites, refuse to trim the central office, and waste tons of taxpayer money. Again, good riddance to the man with the Napoleonic complex. Our gain, Texas' loss.

ConsiderThis
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ConsiderThis 06/20/10 - 08:55 am
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Well according to the article

Well according to the article "The system's rate rose from 63.8 percent in 2008 to 70.4 percent in 2009." From all reports, it appears that the rates will again go up this year. When you look at the budget document from the Board meetings it shows 41 positions gone from central office and a reduction of over $2 milllion dollars in central office staff. What is taught in Georgia schools is based upon the Georgia Performance Standards which is determined and provided by the Georgia Department of Education and required by the State Board of Education.

cleanup
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cleanup 06/20/10 - 10:56 am
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Spin it anyway you like,

Spin it anyway you like, Bedden or Svelha, whomever you are, but his legacy will be one of incompetence, nepotism, and greed.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 06/20/10 - 03:17 pm
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Either (a) test scores and

Either (a) test scores and graduation rates improved under Dr. Bedden or (b) the Georgia Department of Education, the Governor's Office of Student Achievement and dozens of principals, data entry clerks and schools administrators are all involved in conspiring to make Richmond County look good with the GBI, sheriff's office and US DOE Inspector General's Office turning a blind eye.

lylagirl
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lylagirl 06/20/10 - 05:12 pm
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ENOUGH

ENOUGH !!!!!!!!!!!!...already...who cares as long as our children are getting what the need to succeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 06/20/10 - 07:36 pm
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Amen, lylagirl. Well put.

Amen, lylagirl. Well put. Glad to see you also supported Dr. Bedden.

cleanup
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cleanup 06/21/10 - 07:29 am
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That's the point. Children's

That's the point. Children's education suffered under Bedden, and many were robbed of the opportunity to succeed because of Bedden. Don't believe the spin doctors.

Tots
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Tots 06/21/10 - 08:40 am
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Consider This@8:55am-you said

Consider This@8:55am-you said it shows (41) positions gone from central office.Yes but gone where?Many were moved to the Transportation Dept.Someone needs to see where the others were moved.Dont think for one moment that (41)people came off the pay roll from central office.

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