Acting on a recommendation from Superintendent Charles Wilson, the Bulloch County Board of Education approved Dr. Eric Carlyle to be the new principal of Langston Chapel Middle School beginning July 1.
"We were very fortunate to have such quality candidates apply for the LCMS principal position," Wilson said in the school system's announcement.
"This was a tough decision to make, but with input from LCMS faculty and district administrators, who served on the interview committee, and with feedback from the LCMS School Council, we are very excited about Dr. Carlyle joining our team, and we have great confidence in the opportunities he will provide to our students and staff at LCMS," Wilson said.
Carlyle comes to the Bulloch County Schools from the Atlanta area, where he has been a district-level administrator for four years, most recently as director of student discipline and intervention in the Fulton County Schools. However, Carlyle's 24 years as an educator includes eight years prior service as a middle school principal — four years at Swainsboro Middle School in Emanuel County and four in Macon.
Earlier, he was an assistant principal for six years, at two different elementary schools in Gwinnett and Spalding counties, and before that he was a classroom teacher for six years, beginning in Bulloch County.
"I spent four of my years as a teacher in the middle grades, so half of my career has been either as a middle school teacher or a middle school principal," Carlyle told a Statesboro Herald reporter Monday in the BOE boardroom.
'Return to my roots'
"This is kind of full-circle," Carlyle said. "I spent the formative years of my career here in Bulloch County, two years at Statesboro High and I taught one year at Northside School as it was being converted into William James Middle School."
That was around 1996–97.
Originally from Twin City where he graduated from Emanuel County Institute, Carlyle went to Georgia Southern University for his bachelor's degree in communication arts and a master's degree in middle grades education. He also played football for the Eagles. He later attained a specialist's degree in educational leadership from Columbus State University and his doctorate, a Ph.D. in public policy and public administration, from Walden University.
"I'm a Twin City guy," Carlyle said. "So after being in the Atlanta area, I'm getting a great opportunity to return to my roots, really."
BOE votes 6-2
The Board of Education met briefly in closed session during a called meeting at noon Monday and emerged for the vote approving Carlyle's appointment as Langston Chapel Middle School principal. The vote was 6-2, with District 5 member Glennera Martin and District 8 member Maurice Hill casting the "nay" votes.
Based on the state salary scale and Carlyle's years of experience, his salary is projected to be $107,984, according to Hayley Greene, marketing and public relations specialist for Bulloch County Schools. Greene added that the salary of all principals is subject to adjustment based on school enrollment.
The hiring follows Wilson's controversial decision to transfer Dr. Evelyn "Bonnie" Gamble-Hilton, Langston Chapel Middle School principal for eight years, to fill an assistant principal vacancy at Southeast Bulloch High School. That transfer is also effective July 1.
Supporters of keeping Gamble-Hilton as principal at Langston Chapel protested during a Board of Education meeting April 26, when a petition from 59 faculty members was presented. Some spoke in protest again May 31 while the board was out of the room in closed session.
Gamble-Hilton has also opposed the transfer, and her attorney has threatened legal action. But she will receive as high a salary as an assistant principal at Southeast Bulloch High for 2018–19 as she would have as LCMS principal, according to school system officials.
With a projected salary of $107,985 for the 2018–19 term, Gamble-Hilton will be the highest paid assistant principal in the Bulloch County Schools.
But contrary to a statement by her attorney, her pay will not be higher than that of SEB High School Principal Stephen Hoyle. Hoyle's salary last school year was $111,537 and is projected at $112,870 for next school year, according to information provided last week by Greene at the newspaper's request.
Southeast Bulloch High is Gamble-Hilton's alma mater and the second-largest school in the Bulloch County system, noted Monday evening's news release from the board office.
LCMS hiring process
For the Langston Chapel Middle School principal's job, the school system used the same hiring process implemented with previous principal searches, according to Monday's announcement.
"The position was posted in April with four qualified applicants submitting applications for consideration," the news release stated.
A screening committee, which included LCMS teachers, conducted a blind screening of the four applications. The committee usually narrows the applications to be forwarded to an interview committee, in this case made up of central office staff and middle and high school administrators. But in this case, one applicant withdrew, so all three remaining candidates were interviewed by the selection committee, the school system reported.
The interview committee recommended its top two candidates to Wilson, who conducted a second interview. He then asked the LCMS School Council to meet with the candidates. Wilson discussed the candidates with the school council before making his recommendation to the Board of Education.
"I look forward to the opportunity to meet with Langston Chapel staff, parents and community stakeholders to learn more about what they desire and expect from me and better understand what they want to present in their school," Carlyle said in the school system's announcement.