ALBANY, Ga. -- For the past 12 years, David Maschke has served as District 1's representative on the Dougherty County School Board.
Over that span he has seen three administrations come and go. He's preached accountability and transparency in a seemingly Quixotic quest to bring change to a stubborn system rooted in its ways.
During his tenure, he has seen the district operated by some as a tiny fiefdom and as a jobs program, a CRCT cheating scandal and finally intervention by the state Department of Education over alleged misuse of federal programs funds.
At midnight Tuesday, he finally called it quits.
"Frustrating would be a good word to use," Maschke answered when asked what his 12 years on the board were like. "I served with three different administrations, (John) Culbreath, (Sally) Whatley and (Joshua) Murfree, and I am disappointed that in all that time we were not able to significantly address the crucial issues that confronted the school system."
Those issues, mostly dealing with finances and personnel, Maschke asserts, were distractions and prevented the board from its real job of ensuring the education of the county's children.
"I think that the system was dealing with so many negative issues it was difficult to bring the positive to light," he said. "The negative issues occurred in the past and are unfortunately continuing today."
Despite his experience, Maschke said a quality education is available in the DCSS.
"Students with initiative and strong family support can receive a good education. In fact it happens quite often here," Maschke said. "But it doesn't make the news often because the problems that exist haven't allowed the time to devote to the educational side of running the system."
He added that the school district, which will name an interim superintendent soon, along with welcoming new board members Lane Price and Robert Youngblood, has a chance to produce real change within the system.
The hiring of a quality interim is critical, he said.
"Title I grants have to be submitted in January, and personnel contracts come up for renewal in May," said Maschke. "The interim cannot just be a caretaker, he needs to have some big 'fortitude.' He must take a hard look at personnel, and remove, not move, people as has been past practice.
"If he just keeps things going along, then we'll lose a year and not make progress."
As he leaves office, Maschke cannot help but look down the road.
"I really have mixed emotions about leaving the board right now," he said. "I do think the system is at a critical point right now, and I hate to be leaving and taking 12 years of experience with me when so much work is left to be done.
"But I am frustrated and tired and want to spend more time with my family and on running my business."
Maschke said he will still be paying attention, watching from the sidelines, and did not rule out a future return to the board.
"If my replacement doesn't perform well ... well, I may be back," he said with a laugh.