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Bulloch schools superintendent Strickland to resign

Retirement will end 38 years in education

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    Bulloch County School Superintendent Dr. Jessie Strickland plans to retire this summer, resigning from her position before her contract expires.
    The move coincides with her husband's retirement this year and draws to a close 38 years in P-12 education, she said. Strickland will continue her duties until the end of this school year, with her resignation becoming effective July 1.
    "I am surprised to have heard about the resignation," said Dr. Charles Bonds, vice chairman of the Bulloch County Board of Education. "I think we've had some very good years since she has been with us."
    "I'm very disappointed," said board member Maurice Hill. "I wish her the best. She has taken us a long ways and I think she has done a good job with the circumstances we have had to face."
    After 32 years in education at Elizabethtown, TN., where she moved into a district superintendent position, Strickland came to Statesboro to teach at Georgia Southern University. She taught at Statesboro High School for two years before taking the position as Bulloch County school superintendent.
    "This is my 38th year at this," she said Friday. "I've had a wonderful 38 years, but I want to be able to do some other things.  I've enjoyed being here in the school system."
    "Under Strickland’s administration, the system has received national recognition through accreditation of its 15 schools and the Performance Learning Center," said Bulloch County Board of Education Chairman David Ball.
    But, “one of the greatest improvements in the system over the last three and a half years is the increase in graduation rate of 25 percent,” Strickland said. "Receiving numerous state and national recognitions have not been accomplished alone but with the support of the Board of Education and the school and central teams."
    Ball credited several accomplishments to Strickland's leadership.
    "The passing of two SPLOSTS (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), an aggressive facilities construction plan with four new schools, and a healthy fund balance are evidence of our tremendous progress,” he said.
    Strickland said she has enjoyed working with Bulloch county and praised the school  board, teaching staff and non-certified staff members who make all the schools successful.
    "It has been a blessing to work with them," she said. "We have a good leadership team ... a good school system and a great community."
    Bonds said Strickland helped make the BOE " a school board of distinction. She has contributed greatly to the improvement of education in Bulloch county, and I regret she is leaving."
    "We didn't always see eye to eye, but together, in the end, we always did what is best for our children," Hill said.
    Ball said Strickland’s leadership will be missed. She “has turned around the school system in its entirety," he said. "Increasing graduation rate, having benchmarks assessments in place, focusing on academic needs, building a strong leadership team, and strengthening community involvement have all been part of the system’s accomplishments during her tenure.”
    Efforts to begin a "comprehensive search for the most qualified superintendent to continue leading the Bulloch County Schools in a positive direction” will begin immediately, he said. "If we can find somebody just like her, we'll probably hire them."
    Ball said Assistant Superintendents Dianne Bath and Sheryl Jones are also retiring this year. Both Bath and Jones were out of town Friday and not immediately available for comment.
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