Dougherty County School Superintendent Butch Mosely says most of the “damage control” work in the district he inherited in January of 2013 has been done. He lays out his three-year plan for the 24-school, 15,000-plus student school system. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — In January of 2013, when Butch Mosely rolled into town as Dougherty County’s interim superintendent of schools, he expected to stick around for 18 months until the school board hired a permanent chief for the 24-school, 15,000-plus student district.
Things, however, took a twist earlier this month when the board voted 5-2 to offer Mosely the job as the system’s permanent superintendent. He quickly accepted.
After 15 months in the saddle, Mosely has become very familiar with the DCSS’s strengths as much as its well-publicized bumps and warts. Now, firmly in position, he is casting an eye toward the future.
“Basically what we’ve seen over the past year is the total change of culture in the district,” Mosely said. “We have much higher expectations now coming from this office. We feel we now have most of the principals we need in place and we are ramping up to a whole new level of accountability. We are taking a closer look at every department to increase the level of efficiency.
“We are still over-staffed in some areas, and we are aiming for a leaner workforce with higher levels of productivity.”
Mosely’s immediate concern is putting discipline back into the district’s classrooms.
“Our top priority is teaching children to do math and to read and write by the third grade,” he said. “And that revolves around maintaining discipline in the classroom. Teachers cannot do their jobs with unruly students disrupting the learning environment. We want to be able to reach these kids without putting them out onto the streets.”
To that end, Mosely said he and his staff are looking into ways to improve student behavior and reduce the number of kids being sent to the alternative school (South Georgia RAC).
“We have to have more parental involvement,” he said. “We are looking to establish an early intervention program for problem students that will also involve parents and guardians. This is a tough nut to crack because right now we don’t have a silver bullet to fix this problem, but we are working on it.”
The superintendent and Curriculum Director Ufot Inyang also have ambitious goals for the next three years including:
— Moving the DCSS toward a charter system in the state’s School System Flexibility option by June of next year
— Increasing student achievement on state-wide accountability assessments and measurements.
— Increasing high school graduation rates from the 2012-13 four-year cohort rate of 60.10 percent to 67 percent over the next three years. “It is very possible that we will exceed this target given the progress we have made already,” Inyang said.
— Continue to reduce the district’s dropout rate.
— Increase dual enrollment opportunities with Albany Technical College, Albany State University and Darton State College.
— Work aggressively toward the creation of a true College and Career Academy.
— Increasing AP (Advanced Placement) offerings in the county’s four high schools.
“We believe these goals are achievable,” Mosely said. “But the bottom line is having a good teacher in every classroom with a good principal with a staff at the central office who have the ability to support the work in the field while also completing the requirements of their jobs.”
Goals for other departments include:
— Transportation: Consolidate some bus routes to reduce costs; hire more qualified drivers and substitutes; and find new ways to become more efficient.
— Social Services: Increase the number of staff social workers from the current number of three; address problem situations and truancy; and homeless issues.
— School Police: Work to reduce overtime pay issues.
— Finances: Address budget issues; find the right over-under balance on staffing numbers; and implement technology to reduce operating costs.
“Looking forward I am really optimistic about our future,” Mosely said. “We have already completed a large majority of the damage control. We have a group that believes in itself now. We want to work smarter and our progress can be measured by our critics.
“Ultimately we want the community to be able to take pride in their school system.”