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Smith discusses Macon Promise vote | News

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Smith discusses Macon Promise vote
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Interim Bibb County superintendent Steve Smith is trying to knock down misinformation that has got some people upset.

At Thursday night's school board meeting several people from Tindall Heights and Unionville came out to support Macon Promise Neighborhood. The neighborhood improvement project is housed at the Historic Ballard Hudson building, and some people thought it was closing.

But Smith said the board's only action on Macon Promise Neighborhood was a vote to stop paying its operational costs.That includes things like maintenance, which the board can provide itself and avoid paying someone else.

Smith said he won't discuss who is responsible for spreading the misinformation.

"That shouldn't have been done, it was very immature, and irresponsible for the individual and the groups that did that and it serves no purpose. The bottom line is that we're committed to the promise center. And we have a remaining nine year lease that we're committed to. It never was in jeopardy in any way shape, form or fashion," said Smith.

At Thursday night's board meeting, some board members discussed the possibility of purchasing the Historic Ballard Hudson building. Smith even said the system is in negotiation with the Central Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development, the organization over Macon Promise, on purchasing the site.

"Well I think if we can get it at a reasonable cost it would be very prudent on our part to purchase the building. We are in the process of negotiations with P.I.C.D for the purchase of the building. I don't know whether that will come to fruition or not, I hope it will, but you know it takes two people to negotiate and hopefully arrive at a suitable arrangement for the purchase of the building," said Smith.

Board extends Smith's contract

The board hasn't found its next superintendent yet, so Smith has agreed to stay on until December 31st. Both he and his wife were hoping he could go back into retirement.

"You know, I look at it like I'm running a relay race and I'm running say the third leg of the relay race and I get to the fourth leg to hand off the baton and there's nobody there to hand it off to, so I can't just stop, I've got to continue running. So hopefully the board will find a suitable candidate in this round of the search and they will be able to interview and select a candidate who can take office maybe somewhere between October the first and December 31st," he said.

Smith still has things he would like to accomplish, and is proud of the progress the system has already made.

"I kind of look at it as though the train came off the tracks a couple of years ago and we were able to get the train back on the track and we're moving in the right direction but we're not moving at the rate of speed that I think that we need to be moving in. But I think we're getting closer to that point. I think last year was a period of healing, it was a period of confronting the brutal facts to know exactly what we're facing. We did several surveys to identify problem areas in the system, and I think we've made considerable progress. I'm very pleased with the progress that was made towards addressing the problems that were identified. I think leadership is much more stable than it was a little over a year ago and I think that we're doing a better job of communicating, we're doing a better job about being transparent about the operations of the school system," said Smith.

Smith discussed what qualities the next Bibb superintendent should possess.

"Well, I think the most important thing is that they need to build relationships, they need to be able to develop relationships, a good working relationship with the board, with the system level staff, and the school level staff, but in addition they need to be able to connect with the community because the connection with the community and the home is critical to success of any school system and subsequently critical to the success of the community as a whole," said Smith.

"So they need to be someone that has knowledge of the educational systems, some knowledge of the way schools operate, the way systems operate, someone who maybe already has connections within the educational arena from a state, possibly a national level. But they can build those kinds of relationships, but I think they need to have the kind of personality, that is conducive towards working together in partnership with other people because it takes all of us to get the job done. You can't do it alone, you've got to be somebody that has credibility, somebody that if, if it's somebody new coming in, that people don't know, it has to be someone who can build a level of trust with the people with whom they work very quickly, and I think all of those are critical factors in selecting a superintendent," he added.


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