Originally created 11/29/06

Public discusses superintendent



A superhero would be nice, but isn't necessary.

Richmond County parents and teachers said the parts are in place; the next superintendent just needs the leadership to pull them all together.

In the final two of four forums, a few dozen members of the public gave their input on the qualifications for a permanent successor to Charles Larke.

Although each had different thoughts and ideas, many of those who were at Hephzibah and Glenn Hills middle schools felt parents and teachers were crucial to the success of a superintendent and the school system.

"We can't do it if we can't discipline, and we can't discipline if we don't have support," said Kevin Kearnes, a middle school science teacher. "We need to find someone who can support teachers, and I mean support them."

Strong teachers are leaving Richmond County for neighboring Columbia County, he said. A superintendent needs to be hired who can help teachers because they can't do it alone.

Fellow teacher Christine Stover agreed, saying teachers are the ones down in the "trenches" of education.

"Forget theoretical education," she said, preferring a superintendent who respects school board employees.

The next superintendent must also be able to pull another piece of the picture into focus, that being parental involvement.

If parents can pack the county's football stadiums and basketball gymnasiums, grandmother Shirley Darby said, then a leader should be able to spur the same interest for academics and instruction.

Father Warren Umansky agreed and said the superintendent should get parents just as interested in points on the scoreboard as points on the report card.

Someone needs to come in and be bold enough to say unpopular things, stay just three or four years and do what it takes to turn the school system around, he said.

And the superintendent should have a proven record of success, Mr. Umansky said, something many agreed with.

Board members will consider the public input when setting the qualifications for the superintendent. Those qualifications will be used for the brochures sent out to prospective candidates.

For those who were unable to attend one of the four forums, the Georgia School Boards Association will post a survey online in the coming weeks.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.