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Community raising its voice

The Troup County School System is in the process of searching for a new superintendent to fill the position left vacant by Cole Pugh in August of this year. The Troup County Board of Education has called former superintendent Dr. Roy Nichols out of retirement to lead the system while a replacement is pinpointed, however Nichols has been clear from the start he does not intend to throw his hat in the ring for the position long term. Nichols has already shown his ability to lead, albeit begrudgingly, the district in the midst of a difficult and imperfect transition, giving validity to the board’s decision to name him to the interim role.

However, there is no doubt the permanent superintendent hire that looms in front of the board will be the most important decision they make as a group, and will be the measuring stick the community uses to mark their collective success or failure. The school board is, simply put, in the midst of the most important hiring process in recent memory for the system, and Troup County as a whole desperately needs this hire to be a success.

In light of this need, the school board has hired McPherson & Jacobsen, LLC., a Nebraska-based firm that specializes in partnering with school boards to hire and place qualified superintendent candidates. The firm has spent the week conducting question and answer sessions with different sections of the community, asking simple questions regarding what qualities the community wants to see in the next superintendent. The firm combed through those responses and met with the board following Thursday night’s school board meeting in an executive session.

The board has made it clear since the beginning that it wants community involvement in the search, meaning those responses are likely to be in mind when they interview candidates in the upcoming months. 

The superintendent job in Troup County is one rife with opportunity. There are challenges that must be addressed and dealt with, to be sure. Part of Thursday night’s meeting was spent reviewing this year’s College and Career Readiness Performance Index scores, which were a reminder of the opportunity ahead of the next superintendent. There were highlights — school climate ratings were high across the board and graduation rates continue to rise — but CCRPI scores also showed low literacy scores and overall ratings that were below state average in many categories. The school system has rightly called them disappointing, and there’s no doubt the next superintendent will be tasked with not only raising those scores, but increasing pride in the school system as a whole.

The community will also expect those scores to rise, but this week’s community meetings were a reminder that there will be plenty of people supporting the new superintendent in his or her effort to ensure the success of the system. 

The communities that make up Troup County are unique in many ways, not the least of which is the intense pride and ownership residents take in their home cities. There is a refreshing amount of engagement and passion from citizens that want to see their community schools improved, which showed this week.

The next superintendent of the Troup County School System will have to deal with much, however one element they will not have to deal with is community apathy. The expectations will be high, but the support and encouragement will be full-throated.

A qualified and willing candidate cannot ask for much more from a community.