Dan Sims to ‘take the baton’ as next Bibb Schools Superintendent


Jason Vorhees/ The Telegraph

Dan Sims hugs his wife, Traci, after the Bibb County Board of Education voted 6-2 to appoint him to superintendent.

A new leader is set to take the helm of Bibb County Schools.

Dan Anthony Sims, one of five associate superintendents from Atlanta Public Schools, was cemented as the district’s new superintendent at a called board meeting Tuesday night.

The Bibb County Board of Education voted 6-2 to appoint Sims, who is set to start working July 1. Board members Daryl Morton and Lisa Garrett voted against the measure.

The vote comes 14 days – the minimum time period required by law – after the board voted 6-2 to name Sims the district’s sole finalist for the job. It also ends a nearly seven months long search process to find a replacement for Curtis Jones, who plans to retire June 30 after seven years with the district.

Sims, of East Point, was one of 33 candidates to apply for the job. Sims’ wife, Traci, and their son in college, Jordan, attended the meeting.

A contract, salary and benefits were not discussed Tuesday night. However, district spokeswoman Stephanie Hartley said the tentative plan is to have Sims sign a contract at a regular board meeting later this month.

Sims told The Macon Newsroom he has “found somewhere to stay. The contract has been signed, the whole nine.” Sims said his family will remain in Atlanta while his daughter, a senior in high school, finishes out the year.

“She would divorce me if she had to leave her school,” Sims said of his 12th grade daughter.

Though Sims doesn’t officially start until July 1, he said he plans to start engaging with locals next month. A meet and greet with the public is set for late June.

In a brief speech after the board voted, Sims said he would be focused on continuity and thanked Jones for being “an incredible partner in transition.”

“This has been an amazing journey that I started months ago. I knew that I needed to gain as much knowledge and as much internal understanding of Macon, this community and this district if I intended to apply for this incredible position and important position. I’m just thinking about the hours and the miles and the time I put in to prepare for this opportunity,” Sims said. “What I can guarantee you is I come to you as a prepared professional, an individual who has done his homework and heartwork. One who – as I told you in one of our interviews – put all of his eggs in one basket.

“There was not one other application I put in for superintendent because I was sold on the opportunity to come and be a part of this community in this season. My whole career is immersed in hard work, dedication, a sense of community, competence and most importantly, a heart for children. What I intend to do is take the baton from Dr. Jones and continue to make victory, not only victory in progress but victory that we continue to plan for and press forward so every single family, community member, student and employee – and especially you the board – can have all the confidence in the world in what we intend to do.”

The Macon Newsroom requested comment from school board president Thelma Dillard, who came prepared with a printed statement. Dillard discouraged other board members from speaking to reporters before leaving the meeting.

Board member Kristin Hanlon said there wasn’t one specific thing about Sims that appealed to her but “it really came down to what we heard in the room during the interviews,” she said.

Hanlon said picking Sims was “a group decision” and “a very collegial process. We work as a team and we are only a legal body as a team.”

Board member James Freeman said Sims “has a real vision to continue the hard work that was already done by Dr. Jones and the district to continue the progress that was made and I think he’s excited to be in Bibb County. That’s what will make him a great superintendent leading us forward.”

Board member Sundra Woodford said Sims “has the depth of scholarship, experience and the type of vision that we need right now in this district. … We need someone who is courageous enough to make those hard decisions, who has that experience because Atlanta Public Schools is not an easy place to lead. I think he will bring all of his experience and skills here and I think we will see the change that is needed at this time.”

Woodford said the board “made a courageous vote tonight. Because, as you know, there were some in the community who were not in support of it but they didn’t have the information that we had.”

Asked what information the public should know now that Sims has been appointed, Woodford said Sims “did his research and he presented that research with solutions.”

“He had a plan from day one,” Woodford said. “This man, it was like, he started researching us before we even knew about him, which was interesting to me that you want this job so badly that you’ve gone the extra mile to know everything you could about this community, the board, this district, our students, our challenges and you come in ready to tackle those. … No one else came as strong as him with a plan and a vision.”

Board member Juawn Jackson said he “is very excited about the future of the Bibb County School District and I believe that our community will see what we saw in him during this process.”

Asked what the board saw in Sims, Jackson said, “what you see is a competent leader who is ready and willing to engage everyone in this community, all stakeholders … for one single purpose and that’s to ensure every single child receives an equitable education and has a fair chance to be ready, once they graduate, to be employed, enlisted or enrolled into a college of their choice. We’re excited about the next steps in victory.”

To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, email [email protected] or call 478-301-5777.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story used the word “leave” instead of “lead” in a quote by Sundra Woodford.