2012-01-18 / Front Page

School superintendent

Linda Bailey to retire
By Anne Marie Kyzer annemariek@thetruecitizen.com

After 35 years in education, Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Linda Bailey will retire June 1.

Bailey made the unexpected announcement at last week’s Board of Education meeting after handing a letter stating as much to BOE members. Most of the 50-plus in attendance seemed shocked by her decision.

BOE members have not begun their search for a new superintendent, which they hope to have in place by May 31.

Bailey said the possibility of retiring this year has been in the back of her mind for a while, realizing she’d reach the 35- year mark in her career in education this summer. Her current contract, which was extended with a unanimous vote from BOE members last June, expires at the same time.

“God puts people in place for the time they need to be there in order to affect change,” she said later. “If you are open to His will, you know what you are to do. I just feel privileged that I was given the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”

She began her 31 years in Burke County with a teaching position at Blakeney Elementary. She then taught gifted students in the middle and high schools and became assistant principal at Blakeney. She served as principal of Waynesboro Primary School for seven years before becoming deputy superintendent in 2005.

Bailey took the helm of the Burke County Public Schools as Superintendent in 2006. Since that time, Burke County’s graduation rate improved more than 20 percentage points to nearly 80 percent, and Burke County High School met federal standards for Adequate Yearly Progress for the first time ever this year. The school system was awarded millions of dollars in grants, including a stake in the federal Race to the Top grant program that was worth as much as $6 million to the system.

The school system took over the federally funded summer nutrition program, which provides for lunches to be bused to as many as 3,300 children each weekday during the summer.

Two years ago, the school system was awarded federal funds to establish an Early Head Start program in the old Blakeney Elementary School to provide educational childcare for children ages 6 weeks to 3 years.

“I’m sorry she’s retiring, because she did a great job for the school system,” longtime BOE chairman Johnny Jenkins said. “Mrs. Bailey always had the kids first. She always tried to do what was right. She has raised the bar so high that whoever comes in to be the next superintendent has big shoes to fill. Whoever comes in will have a lot expected of them.”

Bailey said she feels confident the system is moving in the right direction and the right programs and people are in place to make that happen.

Bailey said she feels confident the system is moving in the right direction and the right programs and people are in place to make that happen.

“We have so many great things in our school system,” she said. “ You want someone who can carry on that tradition and build on that base.”

Though Bailey has promised a couple of the schools some quality volunteer time, she said she will take some time off to rest come June. After that, she plans to consider her next steps.

THE SEARCH

The Burke County BOE will now look to find a replacement for Bailey by May 31.

Jenkins said members will discuss plans for the search at its annual retreat scheduled for Jan. 27-28.

As of now, Jenkins said they are not sure whether they will look to promote from within or open up the search outside of the school system.

If they do look outside of the county, this will be the first time. Bailey was promoted from within, and her predecessor Doug Day began his 17-year tenure when superintendents were still elected officials.

Whatever the case, Jenkins said he is confident the BOE will be able to fill the position by the time Bailey retires.

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