Caledonia principal withdraws from election


Garthia Elena Burnett



The field got slightly narrower for candidates in the race for Lowndes County superintendent of education. 


Roger Hill, who was running as an independent, Thursday withdrew his candidacy. 


Hill, 64, has been principal of Caledonia Elementary School for more than three decades. 


"I ... have decided to withdraw as a candidate," Hill wrote in a letter notifying the Lowndes County circuit clerk of his decision to remove his name from the November ballot. 


Hill''s withdrawal leaves three candidates in the race -- Republican Lynn Wright, Democrat Cliff Reynolds and independent Rusty Greene. 


Wright, former principal of New Hope High School, has 35 years of experience in education, 28 as an administrator. 


"I will work tirelessly, I will use common sense, and I have no problem taking a stand for what is right regardless of popular opinion or political pressure," Wright wrote in response to a Dispatch questionnaire. 


Reynolds, 47, principal of West Lowndes High School, has 22 years of experience in education. 


"As Superintendent I will give teachers and other stake holders a greater voice in how the district is being run. Change will be part of a collective dialogue," he wrote, responding to the same questionnaire. 


Greene, 48, athletic director for Columbus Municipal School District, had 17 years of experience in the Lowndes County schools as teacher, coach and administrator before being hired at Columbus schools. 


"Effective and open communication between the central office and school principals, teachers, parents and members of the community is absolutely essential to move the district forward," he wrote. 


Mike Halford, who is finishing his eighth year as superintendent of education for Lowndes County, has decided to retire. 


Halford has spent 38 years in education, 19 at Lowndes County schools. Prior to being elected superintendent, he was principal at New Hope High School. It will take two years for someone new to the position to grasp the many aspects of the job, he said. 


"No one fully understands the massive responsibility of being superintendent, especially when you have three different campuses," Halford said. 


Lowndes County School District includes Caledonia, New Hope and West Lowndes schools. 


Lowndes County schools enroll 5,019 students and employ more than 700 people, about 400 of whom are teachers, making it the third-largest employer in Lowndes County. The district operates on a $50 million budget. 


Lowndes County School District last year was labeled a "successful district" by the state Department of Education. The district also boasted the only star school (Caledonia Elementary) within a hundred-mile radius. Those results, based on test scores and other factors, have not yet been released this year.




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