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Richmond school superintendent finalists hailed by former peers

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Dr. Faron Hollinger says he was recruited out of retirement for the position.

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Dr. Roy "Cole" Pugh
Dr. Roy "Cole" Pugh

Dr. Frank Roberson says he brings a hometown interest to the job.

And Dr. Roy "Cole" Pugh says he'd like to continue Richmond County schools' progress, but he's also keeping an eye on his superintendent candidacy in another Georgia district.

The three finalists for Richmond County school superintendent have varying backgrounds but they all get positive reviews from people they've worked with before.

"If Richmond County is able to get him, they've done well," said Kyle Smith, the principal of Kennedy Middle School, referring to Roberson, whom he worked with while Roberson was associate superintendent in Aiken County.

Roberson, a North Augusta resident and Aiken County native, is the current superintendent of the Marlboro County School District in Bennettsville, S.C. He previously served as interim superintendent in Edgefield County.

Hollinger has been retired since April 1 from his seven-year-long superintendent role in Baldwin County Public Schools in Bay Minette, Ala. He said he hadn't really thought about returning to the workforce, but that changed when he said the Georgia School Boards Association contacted him.

"They were in charge of the (Richmond County) search and they made the contact and invited me to apply," he said.

Hollinger has also been a superintendent in Jasper, Ala., and his education experience dates to his teaching days in 1977. He said he saw the Richmond County opportunity as one he couldn't pass up.

"I think the challenge of an urban school district is very attractive to me," he said.

Baldwin County school board member Angie Swiger said Hollinger would be a good superintendent, adding that his greatest strength can be summed up in four words: "He hires very well."

Baldwin board member Norman Moore agreed, saying "I learned to appreciate Dr. Hollinger very much."

He said Hollinger unfairly took some heat from the community as economic conditions toughened in the past two years in Baldwin County, but he said the school system remains one of the best in the state, partly thanks to Hollinger.

Pugh retired in June as superintendent of Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD in Fort Worth, Texas, and has held the role of superintendent seven times, dating to 1983.

Two weeks ago, he was named among three finalists for a superintendent job in Fayette County, Ga. Melinda Berry-Dreisbach, the public information specialist for the Fayette County Public School System, said Wednesday that the school board there could decide on a final candidate as early as Tuesday.

Asked how he would respond to a job offer in Fayette County while being considered in Richmond County, Pugh said: "I'm honored that both districts are considering me at this point, and I'll just have to see how the searches materialize."

Nathaniel Moore Sr., who was on the Columbia-Brazoria ISD board in West Columbia, Texas, when Pugh was superintendent there from 1998 to 2002, said Pugh was "a great superintendent."

"The management style was very inclusive," Moore said, adding that Pugh also focused on such things as improving the dropout rate. "He wanted to make sure everybody was very informed. He was a big proponent of no surprises, which any board likes."

Since the start of this year, Pugh has been a candidate in at least three other open superintendent job searches. In February, he was among four candidates vying for the Pulaski County Special School District in Little Rock, Ark., according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. In April, he was among six semifinalists in the search to fill the Baldwin County, Ala., position vacated by Hollinger, the Mobile Press-Register reported. A spokeswoman for Bryant Public Schools, in Bryant, Ark., also confirmed Wednesday that Pugh had been a candidate there earlier this year.

Asked about the searches, Pugh said the start of a year is typically superintendent hiring season, and "You can't just apply for one because you don't know that you'll even be interviewed for any specific job."

Pugh said he left his most recent job because he had reached the point where he could retire in Texas, and "I decided several months ago it would be in our best interest to pursue a superintendency in another state."

Roberson has one attribute the others can't match: He touts himself as a native of the area.

"I think there's a level of dedication and drive that one would have in one's native area," Roberson said.

"I just think that the affection is already there. It doesn't have to be developed."

Roberson served as interim superintendent for Edgefield County in 2006-07. The school board there named him acting superintendent in March 2007, but contract negotiations stalled and he applied for the then-open Aiken County school superintendent position.

Roberson said that at the time he was up front with the Edgefield board that he had applied for the Aiken job.

He said the holdup in Edgefield came about as he desired a contract that would have let him leave the Edgefield superintendent post with 60 days' notice should he be offered the Aiken job.

He said he and the board parted on good terms, and have "a tremendous amount of respect" for one another.

The candidates

- DR. FRANK ROBERSON

Position: Current superintendent of Marlboro County School District in Bennettsville, S.C

Salary: $135,000 ($20,000 of which he said he applied to operations during state shortfalls)

Number of students in system: 4,800

Annual budget: $48 million

- DR. ROY "COLE" PUGH

Position: Retired in June as superintendent of the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD in Fort Worth, Texas

Former salary: $195,000

Number of students in system: 16,100

Annual budget: $127 million

- DR. FARON HOLLINGER

Position: Retired April 1 as superintendent of Baldwin County Public Schools in Bay Minette, Ala.

Former salary: $184,967

Number of students in system: 28,022

Annual budget: $342.6 million

RICHMOND COUNTY

Former superintendent's salary: base pay of $185,000

Number of students: more than 32,000

Annual budget: $240 million

Sources: Candidate applications and Richmond County school system

Comments (27) Add comment
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Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 07/29/10 - 12:53 am
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0
Dear Superintendent

Dear Superintendent Finalists,
Please take every anonymous comment posted on here with a very large grain of salt. I urge you to speak with parents, students and teachers while coming to your own conclusions. Do not let the vocal minority distort the true picture. Come with an open mind, a thick skin and a single-mindedness to do what is right for the children.

casimir56
10
Points
casimir56 07/29/10 - 02:33 am
0
0
It will be Dr Roberson, based

It will be Dr Roberson, based on that "unwritten agreement" about the RCBOE Superintendent.

lylagirl
1
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lylagirl 07/29/10 - 06:41 am
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Because the last super did

Because the last super did not come with an open mind ...but a hidden agenda....which only benefited him and a selected few.....

nofrills
0
Points
nofrills 07/29/10 - 06:43 am
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0
Roberson is all yours, he is

Roberson is all yours, he is a failure from South Carolina and all the whites will feel his wrath if he gets the job. I can tell you first hand that he has two sets of rules. One set of very strict rules for white students and a very relaxed and forgiving set of rules for black students. Putting him in office will set Augusta back to the sixties...

Junket831
0
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Junket831 07/29/10 - 07:23 am
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This was the best we could

This was the best we could do? Two retirees and a small system superintendent. Let's save some money and just keep an interim for a while. Hard to believe we can't find someone locally to promote.

Good luck to the candidates that made the cut. Here's hoping the RCBOE makes a great selection.

justus4
99
Points
justus4 07/29/10 - 07:39 am
0
0
Is this article an
Unpublished

Is this article an endorsement for a particular candidate? It sure feels that way, but it even find others that "co-sign" and provide glowing remarks about the past; however, if one truly employs leadership principles, popularity will not be a high priority, because adherence to one's stated objective will in most cases not be well-received. A thought.

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 07/29/10 - 07:49 am
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Junket831, have you not

Junket831, have you not thought that there weren't any qualified local people to promote? Or, that qualified local people are smart enough to not want the job? To understand why they wouldn't want the job, all you have to do is read through most of the comments from yesterday and the ones that will follow my post today.

dani
12
Points
dani 07/29/10 - 08:20 am
0
0
What are the odds? Larke,

What are the odds? Larke, Bedden, _____

dani
12
Points
dani 07/29/10 - 08:24 am
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0
Let's make a guess. Based on

Let's make a guess. Based on recent history, of course.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 07/29/10 - 08:51 am
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0
Are any of these guys

Are any of these guys familiar with the education laws as they pertain to the state of Georgia? Further, are they qualified to sit down and start working on day one, or will we be spending a pile of money sending them to conferences for qualifying school superintendents for the state? I would have picked candidates at least familiar with Georgia education laws. I wonder what we paid the search company for these slim pickings? We will never know because we hold our budget in secrecy.

maninthepi
0
Points
maninthepi 07/29/10 - 09:11 am
0
0
why was only one pic posted

why was only one pic posted of candidates and he was black? is that
the reason his picture was shown. if show one why not show all of
their pics? or is that your favorite choice? just wondering

Labatt
0
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Labatt 07/29/10 - 09:54 am
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0
removed

removed

Troy Infantoy
0
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Troy Infantoy 07/29/10 - 09:22 am
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Labatt - You said the same

Labatt - You said the same thing yesterday on your "fishing for attention" postings. Here is a hint - "We don't care how you did it up north!" Please stay there. That is all.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 07/29/10 - 09:39 am
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0
Thank you all for making my

Thank you all for making my point for me.
We have a person who rattles off about some crazy theory because they missed the "next" button to scroll through the other photos.
We have baseless accusations with absolutely no support.
And, we have a comment by someone using a swastika as an icon.
Exactly.

Georgiais1
0
Points
Georgiais1 07/29/10 - 09:44 am
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0
He looks to much like Isiah

He looks to much like Isiah Thomas to me.

Tots
25853
Points
Tots 07/29/10 - 09:54 am
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0
I think the B.O.E. already

I think the B.O.E. already knows who they will choose.

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 07/29/10 - 10:12 am
0
0
Maninthepi, there is a little

Maninthepi, there is a little hyperlink that says, "Next" above the upper right hand corner of the picture of the candidates for superintendent. If you click it, you will see pictures of the other candidates. I've noticed that the pictures are rotating, so if you leave the site and come back sometime later, the picture that headlines the story might be of one of the other two gentlemen. With that said, I think the AC is trying not to be biased with their coverage of these education leaders. There are things about each of these guys that I like and things that I don't like. I suppose if this is what we have left out of all applicants then the board should just put all their names in a hat and draw out a winner.

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 07/29/10 - 10:52 am
0
0
I'm with Dani.........The fix
Unpublished

I'm with Dani.........The fix is in and the choice has NOTHING to do with being the most qualified person.
RCBE should beware upwardly mobile candidates IE The Bedden type who will jump ship for a twenty five dollar raise. I predict the "annoited one" will stay 2 to 3 years, take a buy out and move on and up.

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 07/29/10 - 11:01 am
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0
Based on some of the things

Based on some of the things Roberson said a few years ago when he was trying for the Aiken County position, he will keep this job for a long time if he gets it. http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2007/07/10/met_135263.shtml

"Despite his interest in the Aiken position, Dr. Roberson said he's "going on faith" and keeping his options open, including teaching at the college level. His first concern is staying close to family, including his parents, who are in their 80s and 90s.

"What drove that basically was looking at a long-term commitment and the impact that that commitment would have on family," he said. "And given the increased responsibilities for family, it just made sense for me to look at long-term employment in my home district."

dani
12
Points
dani 07/29/10 - 12:28 pm
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0
KJ, Reminds me of a political

KJ, Reminds me of a political candidate..oh yes, that right..he is a candidate.

Contrarian Coach
0
Points
Contrarian Coach 07/29/10 - 01:00 pm
0
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Hollinger looks like the best

Hollinger looks like the best one to pick if you look at the numbers. His numbers from his last job are the closest to RCBOE's. Nothing against Roberson, but dealing with 4,200 kids with a $42 million budget is much different than 32,000 kids with a $240 million budget.

Of course, RCBOE's Board always has made surprising decisions; just remember that half of them are up for re-election in November. I've already got five new members I'm voting for.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 07/29/10 - 01:07 pm
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0
Contrarian, you're voting for

Contrarian, you're voting for five new members? Wow, you must be a Democrat if you vote that many times. That's not to mention two incumbents are unopposed.

Contrarian Coach
0
Points
Contrarian Coach 07/29/10 - 03:42 pm
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Lol, if two Joe Shmoes runs

Lol, if two Joe Shmoes runs against those two incumbents, they have my vote.

Insider, research the track record of the five Board members up for re-election. The RCSS has had one thing consistently happen the last five years; fail to meet any standards that have been put in place, before and during NCLB. They have also built a reputation for being biased to blacks vs. shortchanging whites when all factors are nearly equal, making questionable decisions (too many stadiums, too many schools vs student population, uneven school zoning, George Bailey as County AD) and performing "backdoor politics".

Surely, some successful businessperson, retiree, politican, educator, or entrepreneur can witness their terms and say " I can go to half of the meetings and make better decision than these people; let me put my hat in"?

I would hope so.

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 07/29/10 - 04:16 pm
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0
Dani, I actually thought

Dani, I actually thought about that while I was typing. Should I say "candidate" or "finalist?" The word candidate won out. My question to you is, are you saying I'm a political candidate? I've probably been called a lot of things on this site, but politician is not one of them. I'm merely a semi-civic minded person. I say semi because I don't let politicians and the political process consume me as some do; nor do I have any intentions of ever running for or endorsing any candidate for any public office. Though I've been called diplomatic by some, there is only so much criticism a person in their right and sound mind can withstand, especially if that criticism is for no other reason than because people know it is within their inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to constantly criticize. Thanks, but no thanks.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 07/29/10 - 04:22 pm
0
0
Contrarian, the last time I

Contrarian, the last time I checked you can only vote in the district in which you reside. That means you vote for your district and super district school board member. You can't vote for five people - unless you live in Minnesota.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 07/29/10 - 07:59 pm
0
0
School districts are the same

School districts are the same as commission districts. They do vote at different times, though.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 07/29/10 - 09:10 pm
0
0
Roberson is a really good
Unpublished

Roberson is a really good person. If you know him, you know what I mean. Yea, the Super. has always been of African decent as of late. . . .so what. Even if he was white, I would still support him. . . .but the bigger picture is PEOPLE IN AUGUSTA THINK IN THE SMALL BLACK AND WHITE BOXES.....(deep exhale)

Let's strive for better ppl.

richmondcountytaxpayer
0
Points
richmondcountytaxpayer 08/01/10 - 08:27 pm
0
0
We do not need another

We do not need another superintendent who is from the area. It would be admirable of the Board if they would select a superintendent who represented the minority students of Richmond County, and if you look at our statistics, the minority is not African-American. A lot of nepotism and favoritism continues in the hiring practices in our county. As a RCBOE employee, I speak from experience. I, too, think it might be a good idea to keep our interim superintendent for a while. It certainly would be more cost effective and with all the furloughs in the county, it couldn't hurt. BTW: I daresay Roberson is somehow related to or friends with some of our Board members. Money is going to change hands somewhere along the line, if he gets the position. Mark my words...

richmondcountytaxpayer
0
Points
richmondcountytaxpayer 08/01/10 - 08:27 pm
0
0
We do not need another

We do not need another superintendent who is from the area. It would be admirable of the Board if they would select a superintendent who represented the minority students of Richmond County, and if you look at our statistics, the minority is not African-American. A lot of nepotism and favoritism continues in the hiring practices in our county. As a RCBOE employee, I speak from experience. I, too, think it might be a good idea to keep our interim superintendent for a while. It certainly would be more cost effective and with all the furloughs in the county, it couldn't hurt. BTW: I daresay Roberson is somehow related to or friends with some of our Board members. Money is going to change hands somewhere along the line, if he gets the position. Mark my words...

richmondcountytaxpayer
0
Points
richmondcountytaxpayer 08/01/10 - 08:27 pm
0
0
We do not need another

We do not need another superintendent who is from the area. It would be admirable of the Board if they would select a superintendent who represented the minority students of Richmond County, and if you look at our statistics, the minority is not African-American. A lot of nepotism and favoritism continues in the hiring practices in our county. As a RCBOE employee, I speak from experience. I, too, think it might be a good idea to keep our interim superintendent for a while. It certainly would be more cost effective and with all the furloughs in the county, it couldn't hurt. BTW: I daresay Roberson is somehow related to or friends with some of our Board members. Money is going to change hands somewhere along the line, if he gets the position. Mark my words...

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