by David Shivers
When Dr. David “Butch” Mosely came aboard as interim superintendent for the Dougherty County School System in January, he inherited a number of thorny issues. Speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on July 29, though, he emphasized up front that “I’m glad to be here and glad to be serving as your interim superintendent.”
Dr. Mosely has served at nearly every secondary education level and had retired as superintendent of Decatur County schools. He originally signed on for a specific period with Dougherty County but soon realized he couldn’t accomplish his goals here within that time frame and would need more time.
Before deciding to apply for the Dougherty County job, he had followed news coverage of the system’s troubles. “I had begun to see some of the things that were happening in your school system and it wasn’t very pretty. Coming in, the first thing I found that surprised me was the good people in the district who really cared deeply about the school system.”
“The first problem I really had to deal with,” he related, “was the negative image that we had at the state department of education. They didn’t think very much of us down here. In fact, they were holding $11 million of our money because they didn’t think we had the wherewithal” to spend the money properly.”
Eventually, he continued, “I convinced them to give us a chance, to help us, and we would follow directions and we would be better stewards of money, and we would be better leaders. So they released about $3 million of that money and we have certainly handled it appropriately.”
The second thing was dealing with staff and people, particularly in light of some unsavory conduct. “We started dealing with them pretty aggressively,” he said. A new mindset was introduced: “We’ll love you to death when you do right, but we’re not going to tolerate unproductive and inappropriate conduct. There is a way to do that, and it’s not that hard to deal with.”
Thirdly, Dr. Mosely said, “As of last October, the top seven jobs in the administration were vacant. Human resources is responsible for getting you good people and looking after $190 million of your tax dollars. Our budget this year is $190 million. Curriculum is what school is all about, teaching children to learn with the appropriate materials. Technology, the technology director job was open, and we were so far behind there were days we couldn’t even email each other in the office. Food service is another area there was about a million dollar hit on due to mismanagement, and I’m sure you are familiar with the scandals over that.”
“I think you can see this is not an overnight solution to all the ills of our school district. But I do think you will see progress. You will see short-term progress, and you will see long-term progress.”
Dr. Mosely has gotten high marks from the school board for his performance, but his continued tenure with the system was thrown into jeopardy recently by a new state law regarding return-to-work contract retirees and how much they are allowed to work while receiving benefits. At time of the Kiwanis meeting, the school system was awaiting approval of a waiver request that was to be filed with the state that if granted would allow Dr. Mosely to continue in the interim position at least until a permanent superintendent can be hired, preferably by June 2014.