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The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Bibb Schools adds ‘missing piece’ in district management amid budget, attendance challenges

Grant Blankenship | Georgia Public Broadcasting
Bibb County School District Superintendent Dan Sims attends a forum for school board members during a candidate panel at city hall in March 2024. The event was organized by Georgia Women and Those Who Stand With Us.

The Bibb County Board of Education approved creating a new executive-level position that Superintendent Dan Sims says will provide adequate supervision to schools in the “absence of having a good management system in place.”

The associate superintendent job was a business item added to the agenda after a lengthy conversation behind closed doors before the school board’s regular meeting Thursday.

The board did not discuss the matter publicly before it was taken up for a vote. The board tentatively approved it in a 5-2 vote at its committee meeting with board members Daryl Morton and Kristin Hanlon voting against creating the position. Board member Lisa Garrett was absent.

The final vote during the regular meeting was 6-1. Hanlon, whose district seat is contested by a challenger in the upcoming election, said she meant to vote “no” during the regular meeting but made a mistake.

“It really comes down to a concern over what the budget season is going to bring,” Hanlon said. “Just the consideration of adding another position and we’re not through the budget season yet.”

Morton, an at-large board member, said he too was concerned about what impact the new job would have on district finances.

“At a time like this when we are facing budget challenges, tax dollars should be spent in the classroom rather than for additional central office personnel,” Morton said.

The associate superintendent will be a new addition to the district’s organizational chart, but some larger districts in Georgia have several. In fact, Sims was one of five associate superintendents for Atlanta Public Schools before taking the job in Macon two years ago.

Establishing a new associate superintendent role will “give us more uniformity and consistency of expectations on the ground for our schools,” Sims said Tuesday. “It will solve the issue of inconsistent expectations as they are translated down to the schools.”

“It’s going to definitely help us to navigate issues as they arise across the district at school level. It’s going to help us in giving more uniformity to the performance of our principals, like those key leaders inside the building,” Sims said.

The creation of a new top-level job in the central office comes as the school board is early in the process of creating a budget for fiscal year 2025. Reducing expenses and increasing revenues will be at the crux of tough decisions the board will have to make in coming months, including a possible tax increase.

It also comes as the district, like many public school districts across the country, is facing unprecedented levels of student absences and disciplinary issues.

Sims describes the new position as “the missing piece” in the district’s management structure.

“If you look at our organizational chart, you’ll notice on that chart every single entity and division has leadership in it. And the one that doesn’t have leadership is schools,” Sims said.

Sims said he was unclear on the salary range for the new position but aims to make a hire this summer. It also was unclear where the position would fit in the district’s current organizational chart Sims said he presented to the board.

The district declined to provide the new organizational chart upon request. A spokesperson said Tuesday it had not yet been finalized.

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

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