Superintendent hopefuls discuss plans, experience

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The three finalists for Richmond County schools superintendent say they feel they have the experience and know-how to run the system effectively.

In interviews with The Augusta Chronicle on Friday, two candidates gave their thoughts on how they would approach the job: Dr. Frank Roberson, the superintendent of Marlboro County School District in Bennetts­ville, S.C., and Dr. Roy "Cole" Pugh, who retired in June as superintendent of the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District in Fort Worth, Texas.

Dr. Faron Hollinger, who retired April 1 as superintendent of Baldwin County Public Schools in Bay Minette, Ala., declined the newspaper's request, saying he's still awaiting a follow-up interview with the board members and would prefer to detail his plans for the system with them first.

1. What plans do you have to help improve the Richmond County school system?

Dr. Frank Roberson: "I would like to see, as my first order of business, being to meet with the school board in a strategy session-type atmosphere and chart the course for those things that board members see as immediate needs or concerns or ambitions or goals that they would like for us to move forward either to initiate or to improve upon. I would envision that we would come away with several prioritized goals and objectives to move forward with. And the other part of that ... is to engage in a similar type session with school-based people, the principals to teachers, and then of course the parents and the community."

Dr. Roy "Cole" Pugh: "One of the things I discussed with the board during the interview process was an entry plan. And I would like to meet with board members individually, meet with the central office people who report to the superintendent, talk to some principals, other employees, teachers for sure, students, and then go to the community and talk to some parents and business people. And during those visits I would like to ask what things each individual person believes the strengths of the district are and the areas that might be in need of improvement. ... There would need to be plans to improve student achievement, and also look at facilities and other areas ... and also the current communication plan that might be in place."

2. What areas do you feel are running smoothly in the Richmond County school system, and how would you continue that success?

Dr. Frank Roberson: "I've been extremely impressed with the operation of the board in terms of the committee-based system. ... I notice that in the academic area, the reading progress appears to be in very, very good shape, on target. Students are reading well in elementary grades, and I see that moving on through the middle grades as we look at the achievement data on Richmond County in comparison to other districts that are similar. The one area that would need to be given some attention is what's happening with mathematics achievement, and that is something that we can look very, very closely at to see what adjustments need to be made, and generally teachers will have their fingers on exactly what the issues are. So, I would rely on that expertise."

Dr. Roy "Cole" Pugh: "I know that the board feels like in the last few years there's been good progress made, and you always want to when you determine the strengths of a district, continue those things that people think are strengths. At the same time, develop plans to improve on those areas that might need improvements. Of course, that involves talking to people, but also looking at data on how students are performing in other areas of district operations. So, I feel like the district is moving in the right direction. It would just be a matter of continuing the things that are working well and then developing plans to improve those that are not. I know there's quite a few campuses that have not made AYP (adequate yearly progress), so there would need to be some looking at steps that could be taken to improve the achievement of all students and then trying to close achievement gaps among the subgroups in the district."

3. What would be your first action as superintendent if selected for the job?

Dr. Frank Roberson: "My first action would be to be out there among the teachers and the students and the administration on the very first day. I see myself in the schools on the very first day, very first week, and of course on a very regular basis thereafter. I'm a hands-on person, and I like to be involved and connecting with those who are working closely with the students, which is our purpose of being there. ... So, the schools will be an extension of my office, in essence."

Dr. Roy "Cole" Pugh: "It would be to implement the entry plan that I just discussed. I think that's a great way to get to know a lot of people in a short period of time, start communicating with people in a district and, at the same time, they get to meet the new superintendent and learn more about him."

4. Why do you think your past experience makes you a good candidate to be the leader of Richmond County schools?

Dr. Frank Roberson: "My experience is basically working in education and working with people and working well with people and being able to get things done in concert recognizing the strengths in people and establishing a focus so that we can build a quality education system for our students. I think all of those things over the years have simply matured and I ... hope to put all of my talents and knowledge in place to move Richmond County schools toward a status of world-class education."

Dr. Roy "Cole" Pugh: "I have worked in districts with different characteristics. I've been superintendent in districts that have ethnic diversity and also that had maybe student performance that was not where they wanted it to be. And there were larger than acceptable gaps among subgroups. I've worked in districts that had facility issues, financial issues. So, as I look at Richmond County, I don't see anything there that I haven't experienced before as the superintendent, and I think those past experiences would be an asset to Richmond County."

5. Are there any changes you would make to the system?

Dr. Frank Roberson: "It would be premature for me to speculate at the moment because I'm a data-driven individual and would like to really, really study firsthand what is in place and what that looks like and whether or not it's getting the results that we should be receiving. Also, relying very heavily, as I mentioned earlier, on the views and perspectives and perceptions of the school board members and also the community as a whole. And most definitely the teachers, because they know firsthand what's happening. There's another group that I would involve in assessing things: the students themselves."

Dr. Roy "Cole" Pugh: "As you assess the strengths and areas in need of improvement, I've always found that people will tell you areas that they want to improve on, and there's an old saying that the system is perfectly set up to achieve the results that it's currently experiencing. So, if you want better results, then you have to do something a little bit differently. I would want to look at specifically the alignment of the curriculum of the district, the quality of the written curriculum, the quality of the materials provided to instructional personnel."

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disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/01/10 - 05:53 am
0
0
Dr. Pugh gets my vote and he

Dr. Pugh gets my vote and he should start by looking at the math classes at Crosscreek. His statement "I would want to look at specifically the alignment of the curriculum of the district, the quality of the written curriculum, the quality of the materials provided to instructional personnel" would reveal that they have no take home math instruction books for homework. Of course we bought the cheapest part of the curriculum, the homework question book with no instructions, We just forgot to budget and fund the computers and software required for the program. As to both of their comments, do they actually expect any teacher to tell them what their problems are especially if it is in the Principals policy area?

1SCDawgfan
0
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1SCDawgfan 08/01/10 - 07:12 am
0
0
OMG! The rain has passed,

OMG! The rain has passed, clouds have parted, heavenly hosts are singing...I actually AGREE with you disssman on the math curriculum! As for the teachers telling what problems there are, you can COUNT on ME to say what I think. They seem to forget that there are other places for us to go that actually appreciate teachers who advocate for kids getting a quality education and demand excellence from our students!
I'd like to hear from the third candidate before I form my opinion as to who I want.

tchnga
0
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tchnga 08/01/10 - 08:12 am
0
0
dissman why do you taret one

dissman why do you taret one particular school? The state adopted the new math curriculum not just Cross Creek. The students are given work books to take home but there are no hard back true blue text books for the math I, 2, 3, or 4 classes taught in school. FYI- the teachers are not particulary fond of the no textbook either however if you ask the teachers if they have any books at the school and they do, they might just let your child take it home so you can help them. Look for the math curriculum to change with a new secretary of education and governor in the next 18-24 months.

lylagirl
1
Points
lylagirl 08/01/10 - 08:51 am
0
0
Well...if they want to come

Well...if they want to come into the community to ask questions...I will answer everyone of them because I am tired of these so-called wonderful supers coming here and wasting my tax monies....don't just talk a good talk...I want to see you walk a good walk....I don't know about that last candidate not wanting to answer questions to AC...he doesn't seem transparent enough for me...the board wouldn't be paying him but taxpayers will be contributing some of his pay I suspect..... we don't need a repeat...PLEASE...

mybaskett
231
Points
mybaskett 08/01/10 - 09:26 am
0
0
Both interviews seem to me as

Both interviews seem to me as if they are just speaking to the board. The answers seem to be politically correct. Good thing I don't have a vote. My vote is leaning closer and closer to putting my child into private school. I may go broke doing it, but it may be money well spent.

lylagirl
1
Points
lylagirl 08/01/10 - 10:00 am
0
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It will be well spent...this

It will be well spent...this county has gone to the dogs...you have a principal who thinks she can do anything she wants to do and nobody does anything...many of these school adminsitrators do not want to do their jobs...County never makes AYP ..at this point, anywhere is better than this school system...I say go for it mybaskett

nofrills
0
Points
nofrills 08/01/10 - 11:55 am
0
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You dont want Roberson, We

You dont want Roberson, We had a sample of him when he worked in area 5, What a joke! All I can say is good luck!

iLove
626
Points
iLove 08/01/10 - 12:46 pm
0
0
"I see myself in the schools
Unpublished

"I see myself in the schools on the very first day, very first week, and of course on a very regular basis thereafter. I'm a hands-on person..."

I like this about Roberson!

"And most definitely the teachers, because they know firsthand what's happening."

And also that point. I'm glad he understands this.

"I ... hope to put all of my talents and knowledge in place to move Richmond County schools toward a status of world-class education."

And finally that point. He has a (positive) vision for the school district.

What's up with the 3rd candidate not speaking :?

Riverman1
90455
Points
Riverman1 08/01/10 - 04:37 pm
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0
Dr. Roberson knows this

Dr. Roberson knows this school system and area well. That's valuable. Some things can't be learned that fast.

richmondcountytaxpayer
0
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richmondcountytaxpayer 08/01/10 - 07:04 pm
0
0
We DO NOT NEED another

We DO NOT NEED another superintendent from across the river!!! The good old boy club needs to stop!! Dr. Larke (God Bless him) got us into most of this mess. We need to get someone from out of state again. Dr. Bedden did a good job. He did some great house cleaning while he was here, no wonder he was sought out by other districts. We need a breath of fresh air, not another home town good old boy, who will get right back into the nepotism and "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" syndrome we've seen in the past.

lylagirl
1
Points
lylagirl 08/01/10 - 07:12 pm
0
0
Please.... Bedden was into

Please.... Bedden was into that "scratch my back" syndrome too. He had favorites as well...so get off of the he was a brath of fresh air...he was a waste of time and tax payers money....21 out of 55 schools made AYP and he did a great job...give me a break!!!!!

corgimom
36696
Points
corgimom 08/01/10 - 07:33 pm
0
0
God bless whoever takes that

God bless whoever takes that thankless job.

crackerjack
150
Points
crackerjack 08/01/10 - 10:43 pm
0
0
They should offer the job to

They should offer the job to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona.

richmondcountytaxpayer
0
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richmondcountytaxpayer 08/01/10 - 11:13 pm
0
0
Lyla, I agree that Bedden was

Lyla, I agree that Bedden was into the "back scratching" but not nearly as bad as his predecessor was into it. But we definitely don't need a Larke clone from across the river. It would definitley be a big mistake. But, he probably has relatives, friends, friends of a friend, who knows what, and will get the job because of that. A breath of fresh air would be someone from outside of Augusta who has enough integrity to stay away from all that crap. I've been with the RCBOE long enough to know that nepotism and favoritism is the play the biggest part in hiring.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 08/02/10 - 08:46 pm
0
0
So you are saying, whatever
Unpublished

So you are saying, whatever Dr. Bedden does, Dr. Robinson does too. . . .???? I thought that it was good to have someone from the area? I don't get it. . . or maybe I do.. . .Augusta..

knightgirl75
8
Points
knightgirl75 08/03/10 - 12:04 am
0
0
I think Dr. Pugh is the best

I think Dr. Pugh is the best man for the job. But what do I know I am just a property owner who's taxes keep going up to pay the ridiculous amount that the Superintendent makes. I don't think that a school superintendent should make more than the Mayor of a town. But we know who will get the job already. I say give another race a chance, the last two were of the same race.

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