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State BOE to vote on Mosely waiver next month

ALBANY — The month of September is shaping up to be interesting for the Dougherty County School System and Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely.

Earlier this year, Georgia passed HB 208, which sets strict return to work provisions and limits the number of hours a member of the Teacher’s Retirement System of Georgia (TRS) can work.

Mosely was retired from the state when he began work as the DCSS’s Interim Superintendent in January.

According to the TRS web site, members who have negotiated a return to work employment contract have been notified that, “retirees who are currently under an employment which extends beyond June 30, 2013, will be required to terminate or suspend their TRS retirement benefit.”

Mosely currently draws $154,000 per year from the TRS, and his original one-year deal with the DCSS pays him $175,000 annually with no benefits.

The law, which applies retroactively, states that retirees can work no longer than nine months per year. That maximum will be reached on Sept. 30.

In response, the Dougherty County Board of Education voted 5-1 late last month to send a resolution to the State Board of Education asking for a waiver of the state’s 49 percenter rule. The waiver request is for nine months and would expire on June 30 of next year.

The resolution sent to Atlanta asks the BOE “to waive the period of time from Oct. 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, the requirement of Rule 160-5-1-.22(2)(a)1 which requires each local school system to have a full time superintendent as to the Dougherty County School System so as to permit the Dougherty County Board of Education to employ a part-time superintendent to serve 49 percent of full-time during that time period.”

The resolution further states that allowing the DCSS to employ a part-time superintendent will “allow the Board to continue to institute the reforms and actions upon which it has embarked which are necessary to improve the educational opportunities for the Dougherty County School System and bring the DCSS into compliance with all appropriate laws and regulations of the federal government and the State of Georgia and allow the Board to search for and employ a qualified individual to serve as permanent superintendent.

A source close to the situation confirmed Wednesday that the waiver request will be on the state BOE’s Sept. 21 meeting agenda.

There seems to be sentiment in Atlanta to grant the DCSS’s request.

“We’ve been paying attention on what has been going on in Dougherty County since January,” BOE Budget Chairman Larry Winters, who in December summoned the entire Dougherty Board to a meeting in Atlanta, said Wednesday. “We’ve seen some wonderful signs of progress down there since Dr. Mosely took over. That’s why in July we began releasing money to the system. There problems are not over, but things are improving.”

If the BOE approves the request, Mosely’s the status quo would be maintained until the end of the current fiscal year. However. If the waiver is denied, then things could get dicey for the DCSS.

Mosely would either have to come out of retirement and rework his current salary with the district, or return home to his native Climax. Mosely says he does not want the position permanently.

In either scenario, the district plans to have a permanent superintendent in place in July 2014.

DCSS Board Chairperson Carol Tharin said Tuesday the board’s plan is to begin advertising the position in January of 2014 and conduct a thorough search for the best possible permanent superintendent.