MACON, Ga. — Bibb Schools’ incoming Superintendent Dan Sims was ready to take the baton from outgoing Superintendent Curtis Jones on Thursday evening but Jones didn’t bring one to the school board meeting.
“I told him earlier today we don’t have a torch, we don’t have a baton,” Jones said. “What we do have is a pin.”
Sims received an official Bibb County BOE pin about a month ago the night he was named the district’s sole finalist for superintendent. But the pin Jones affixed to Sims’ coat Thursday evening was special.
“We the employees came up with the V.I.P. pin,” Jones said as he stood by Sims in front of a few dozen people before the regular board meeting. “I shared with him earlier today that when we put the pin on, it means we buy in to who we are. We buy in to what we believe and what we’re doing.”
V.I.P. stands for “Victory in Progress” and the acronym is at the crux of the culture of accountability the district has strived for under Jones’ leadership.
Every Bibb Schools employee has to wear a V.I.P. pin but they can’t wear one until they’ve been with the district for a year, Jones said.
School board members are an exception to that rule “and it also does not apply to the superintendent because, while we don’t have a baton or … a gavel, we do have a pin and you are the keeper of the pin,” Jones said. “And so today it’s my pleasure to give you your pin.”
The board voted 6-2 to approve a three-year contract for Sims. He will make $250,000 and will receive an $800 monthly check to cover travel expenses. Benefits are in line with those offered to Jones and include moving expenses, a $1 million dollar life insurance policy, health insurance and tax annuity benefits. Sims also will be payed for time he is working before his start date July 1.
Board members Lisa Garrett and Daryl Morton voted against the contract offer.
Morton said Jones made $210,000 when he was hired as superintendent in 2015. Jones had been a superintendent for six years at the time but this is Sims’ first superintendent job.
“Comparable salary means comparable candidates,” Jones said. “I cannot support paying Dr. Sims an amount that’s comparable to Dr. Jones.”
Sims, of East Point, comes from Atlanta Public Schools where was one of five associate superintendents and made an annual salary of $167,535.
Also Thursday, the school board recognized 33 retirees who have a combined experience totaling more than a millennia. Tanzy Kilcrease, chief of staff under Jones, was among the retirees. She received a standing ovation with audible cheers.
Kilcrease’s name was repeatedly mentioned as the preferred candidate for school superintendent in public feedback and emails to board members. She is moving on to work for the Georgia Department of Education as a Tier 4 Program Manager in the Office of School Improvement, School & District Effectiveness & Chief Turnaround Office.
Jones thanked Kilcrease publicly and announced she had been appointed special advisor to work with DeKalb County Schools as it sorts out systematic operational issues.
To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, email Corley_le@mercer.edu or call 478-301-5777.