In many ways it is understandable that the Oconee County School System decided to remove the “interim” tag from John Jackson’s position.
The interim superintendent was recently named superintendent on a permanent basis for the Oconee County School System, selected as the choice after the decision had been narrowed down to him and Banks County superintendent Chris Erwin. It’s not uncommon for school systems to go with the familiar candidate. However, whether that choice turns out to be the best case scenario for Oconee County in the long run I cannot say.
What I can say, however, is the choice certainly benefits Banks County for it means Erwin will be staying in Homer. It should be noted that Erwin did not pursue the job. He was contacted by Oconee County officials and asked if he would talk with them about the opening. Erwin agreed and you cannot blame him for that. In all, approximately 30 candidates applied for the opening and Erwin, along with Jackson, were the two finalists.
That in itself speaks volumes about what Erwin has done during his tenure in Banks County. Having worked first hand with Erwin and seen what he has done with the local school system, I’m not surprised another one would be interested in hiring him. I’m also not surprised that he would emerge among a deep, talented pool of candidates as one of two finalists.
Had Erwin been offered the job in Oconee County I have no doubt he would have done a good job there, if he had decided to make the move. However, the fact that everything worked out that he is staying in Banks County means great things for students locally.
Test scores are way up in Banks County School System. Of course, test scores are not the end all for a local school system’s success. Many educators are quick to tell you too much emphasis is put on test scores. I agree with that assessment. I always have. However, since tests are used as a way of judging students, school officials want to excel at them and excelling has been the name of the game in recent years in Banks County.
Erwin has a sound strategy of hiring good people and letting them do their job. He’s not a micro manager although he is not completely hands off either. If he sees something that needs to be done he will do it. However, he’s not the type of superintendent who is termed a control freak.
The Banks County School System is rapidly growing. No doubt it will continue to do so. Under this scenario the right leader is needed. With Erwin, Banks has that right leader. There were some nervous people when word got out that a nearby county was looking at hiring Erwin as their superintendent. That’s natural. However, it should also make the parents of Banks County feel good to know that another county realizes what quality work their superintendent is doing.
Oconee County has made its choice and hopefully it will work out best for the students there. I do know Oconee County’s decision will work out just fine for Banks County because Erwin is still here. That means test scores will continue to go up, students will continue to receive a first-class education, teachers will be supported and facilities will continue to improve.
Chris Bridges is an editor with Mainstreet Newspapers. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.