ALBANY, Ga. -- Last month, when Butch Mosely accepted the job as interim superintendent of the Dougherty County School System, he promised a more open and communicative administration.
That promise was put to the test this week with two public meetings on possible school closures and a trip to Atlanta to "throw himself upon the mercy" of the State Board of Education.
On Monday and Thursday, Mosely and the School Board listened to concerns and comments from nearly 30 different citizens in regard to the possible closure of Sylvester Road Elementary and Dougherty Middle schools and the repurposing of Magnolia Elementary.
"School closures and rezoning are two of the most contentious issues any school district can face," Mosely said. "These hearings give people the opportunity to speak and provide the board with more input. After all is said and done, I hope people will say the process was fair and transparent."
On Wednesday, Mosely and Executive Director of Finance and Operations Ken Dyer and two more staff members drove to Atlanta to meet with the State Board of Education. In December, the DOE placed the district on "high risk" status and is currently sitting on more than $12 million of the school system's FY 2013 federal allotment money.
The object of the trip, Mosely said, was to assure state officials that "there is a new sheriff in Dougherty County who is going to insist on doing things the right way."
The state is concerned about the district's Title I, Race to the Top and School Improvement Grant funding, and the "high risk" status has the DCSS currently locked into reimbursement status.
"We were very well-received by the DOE people," Mosely said. "All the major players were there. They told us where we were and what we have to do to get out of this mess we are currently in. Basically, we have to convince them of our commitment to change."
The DOE remembers its history with the system, a history that involves uncooperative staff, incomplete documents and a lack of support from the central office to the field (schools).
"I think Dr. (Ufot) Inyang (the system's new director of curriculum and instruction) will fix those problems ASAP," Mosely said. "In the past, many staff members did not seem receptive to correcting problems. Well, that's gonna change."
Mosely said he and his team left the DOE meeting with good feelings.
"I am cautiously optimistic they will soon be freeing up the held funding and remove us from high risk status," the superintendent said. "Then we can begin taking a hard look at our personnel. But we need to get this thing with the DOE settled first; then we can really begin to move the system forward."