On Wednesday, the closing of a chapter of the Dougherty County School System began.
Superintendent Joshua Murfree and a majority of the Dougherty County Board of Education agreed to a mutual employment agreement that will result in the superintendent leaving the job on Dec. 18, the day before school breaks for the Christmas holidays. When school resumes in the new year, there will be another individual in charge of the school district, likely on an interim basis.
Murfree took over the job on June 8, 2010, and his administration has had its share of controversies, not the least of which was the flawed selection process that the School Board used to make the selection. By ignoring Sunshine Laws and pushing through a selection in violation of its own expressed process, the board placed Murfree in a difficult situation. After his appointment, Murfree did little to improve the situation.
While we have been less than impressed with Murfree’s performance on the job, the problem was not who was selected in 2010, but how the superintendent was selected. Rather than giving all the candidates full consideration and making a well-thought-out decision, the board majority cut short the process.
We hope the School Board will take a more disciplined and considered approach in choosing its next school chief.
There are about 16,000 students in the school district who are depending on capable leadership to help them get off on the right foot after high school. They need someone at the helm who can focus on them, someone who will make sure that funds are going to the right places and that the students are getting the most benefit possible from the education money being spent. The School Board needs a high-quality administrator who will make necessary changes and facilitate community support, one who is capable of getting the system beyond controversies such as Title I spending and lunch programs that distract from the job of education.
Choosing a new superintendent is a critical job for the board members. We hope they will take this task seriously, find quality candidates and provide the people of Dougherty County with an opportunity to meet at least the top three choices at community forums. Education is all about knowledge, and the more knowledge the residents of Dougherty County have about the next superintendent before a final choice is made, the better.
We all have a stake in this — students, their parents and guardians, businesses that will hire those students in the future, and the taxpayers who fund their education. Dougherty needs a healer and a leader and a School Board that will find that individual.