The Muscogee County School Board on Monday voted unanimously to hire T.W. Josey High School Principal Ronald Wiggins as one of three regional chiefs, positions created by Superintendent David Lewis in a reorganization plan aimed at boosting student achievement in the district.
Wiggins said Tuesday evening he has accepted the job.
Wiggins will oversee 16 schools and be responsible for supervising principals and staff, implementing academic programs, recommending policies to the superintendent and “giving schools the resources they need to improve academics,” according to director of communications Valerie Fuller.
Muscogee County – which includes Columbus, Ga. – features similar demographics to Richmond County, with 58 schools, 32,000 students, a graduation rate of 73 percent
and high poverty, with 72 percent of students on free or reduced lunch.
Wiggins has worked in Richmond County for more than 20 years, serving as a teacher, assistant principal and principal.
After joining Josey in 2009, Wiggins helped implement a federal $3 million School Improvement Grant, which provided funds for technology, teacher training, culture changes and other initiatives to turn around the once-failing school.
Since 2011, the percentage of students passing biology jumped 20 percentage points, to 44 percent. The number of chronically absent students dwindled from 219 to 96.
The school has also increased the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses while developing a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program.
In February, Josey became the second high school in the nation to be named an Insight School by Pearson, a title given by the education firm to schools that have shown significant progress in culture, achievement and instruction.
The incoming Josey principal will have to navigate drastic changes – the Richmond County Board of Education gave final approval this month to merge Murphey Middle School and Josey – with eighth-graders moving in 2015 and sixth- and seventh-graders following in 2017.