November 19, 2019 10:08:28 AM
With Sam Allison's hire as superintendent Monday night, the Lowndes County School Board went for an in-house candidate with 15 years of administrative experience in the district.
The New Hope native came home in 2004 as assistant principal at New Hope Middle School and was promoted to the principal role there two years later. He previously ran against outgoing superintendent Lynn Wright for the top leadership position in the district. In the time since, Allison's leadership is credited, in part, for pulling the school's state accountability rating from C to B. That annual letter grade system primarily considers student performance on state benchmark exams.
But on Jan. 1, Allison will move from leading a B school to an overall A district, a rating the board and public doubtless expect the district to maintain. He will also oversee district finances that are trying to recover from consecutive years of declining operating balances, mainly due to millions of dollars in building projects across the district that weren't supported by tax increases.
His leadership will span three very distinct communities -- Caledonia, New Hope and West Lowndes -- all of which have great pride in their identity.
This job will have its challenges, but Allison has shown himself to be a dedicated educator who cares for the district.
The process to hire a superintendent -- the district's first board-appointed head -- has been a long one, and it's often been wracked with high emotion, especially from supporters of Wright. Additionally, this paper multiple times questioned the process used to select a new leader. Don't mistake our criticism of the process as criticism of the hire. We have confidence in Allison's abilities and encourage the school board members, staff and vested members of the public to support him.
If the district is to continue to grow and improve, parents, teachers and other stakeholders must see their way clear to prioritize the students over politics.
One of Wright's strengths was that he always made himself available to the public and to the media. We encourage Allison to continue that openness. This is a service position in a public school district, after all, and sustained public support will depend on providing patrons reasonable access.
We wish Allison well and congratulate him for his new opportunity. May the district continue to thrive under his leadership.
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