On the heels of the county school superintendent announcing his retirement, comes the same announcement from the city school superintendent.
Cartersville School Superintendent Dr. Howard Hinesley announced at Monday night’s board meeting that he plans to step down as head of the 4,000-student system, effective June 30, 2018, and board members named Cartersville High Principal Dr. Marc Feuerbach as his successor.
The superintendent’s announcement came exactly two weeks after Bartow County Superintendent Dr. John Harper announced his plans to retire at the end of his contract, also June 30, 2018.
Hinesley, 70, said he notified the school board last fall of his intentions to retire at the end of his current contract, turning down a subsequent offer of another three-year contract, and finalized his plans during Thursday’s executive session.
“I will be forever grateful for the confidence you had in me when you hired me in March of 2005,” he told board members. “I know you were concerned that I might not be a good fit because I came from such a large system [Pinellas County, Florida], but I hope that I laid those fears to rest. I sincerely appreciate the support I have received during my 12-plus years here as your superintendent.”
After Hinesley read his statement, each of the seven board members thanked him for his leadership during his tenure.
“I’ve been on the board, at this point, for 17 years, and I think the easiest vote I probably have ever had on anything major was the vote to hire Dr. Hinesley as superintendent,” President Kelley Dial said. “We went through an exhaustive process, did a nationwide search, and after the interviews with the finalists, it literally was the easiest thing in the world to vote for Dr. Hinesley, and he has not disappointed us.”
Board member Tim Chason was serving his first term on the board when Hinesley was hired and said the new superintendent came as an “easy addition” to the school system team.
“We never looked back from that day that we voted,” he said. “... Our community is a much better place because of you.”
Member Travis Popham, who wasn’t on the board when Hinesley was hired, said it “did not take long to realize as a board member what a role he’s played.”
“I did see the tough times economically, and I credit you for your leadership through those times,” he told Hinesley. “We appreciate you, and we’re going to miss you.”
After the board reluctantly voted 7-0 to accept Hinesley’s resignation, it also unanimously voted to enter contract negotiations with Feuerbach to make him the next superintendent.
Dial said Hinesley had wanted to retire three years ago, but board members convinced him to accept one more three-year contract, which gave them time to create a succession plan to groom his replacement.
“During this last contract, we’ve been able to plan what’s going to come next, and for over a year now, we’ve had a good bit of discussion in executive session about how we would handle our next superintendent,” she said, noting they started “actively talking about” a succession plan in September 2016.
In March, the board began talking with Feuerbach about “what his long-term plans were and what our long-term plans were,” conducted “a couple of interviews” with him and had further executive-session discussions about him, Dial said.
Board member David Apple read a motion to recommend Feuerbach as Hinesley’s successor.
“After carefully considering all of its options, the board of education believes the person best qualified to lead the school district at this point in its history is presently employed by and serving the school district as the Cartersville High School principal,” he said. “I move that over the next two weeks, the board of education pursue and attempt to recruit and come to agreement with Dr. Marc Feuerbach to serve as the next superintendent of the Cartersville City School District.”
Apple said Feuerbach, who has completed the Superintendent Professional Development Program coordinated by the Georgia School Superintendents Association, was hired as the high school principal in July 2014 in hopes that he would be Hinesley’s successor.
“When we were looking for a new principal for the high school, which is a very important task that the superintendent fills, that Dr. Hinesley found a candidate that not only would be a great principal for the high school but had in his career path desires to be a superintendent, which filled two purposes for us,” he said.
Hinesley said when he leaves his position, the system will have the “lowest millage rate in the past 17 years and a healthy balance.”
“In addition, we paid off a $32 million bond debt in 10 years, leaving the system and taxpayers debt-free,” he said. “None of this could have been done without the leadership of the school board and our hard-working administrators.”
The superintendent said he’s also proud of the system’s academic accomplishments: increasing Advanced Placement classes from five to 17, offering off-campus programming at Ombudsman and on-campus virtual programming, providing a comprehensive arts program, increasing the graduation rate, creating technical and vocational career courses and dual-enrollment partnerships and providing comprehensive services for special-needs students.
Hinesley also praised the board for being responsible for the statewide REACH needs-based scholarship program, modeled after Cartersville’s GateKey scholarship program, but Dial said she would “beg to differ” with him on that point.
“The credit for GateKey goes to him,” she said. “He brought that idea to us. He started it, and ... that’s his baby. He deserves all the credit for that and, by extension, the REACH Scholarship, which is statewide. I think that’s one of the greatest accomplishments of any superintendent that I know.”
Though he won’t be reporting to work every day, Hinesley said he and his wife, Susan, plan to “stay right here in the place that has become our hometown,” and he will “absolutely” continue to bleed purple.
The superintendent said he was “getting pressure from his family” to retire three years ago.
“My grandchildren are in school out of state, and I missed a lot of family things because of the job,” he said, noting he plans to travel and help his siblings take care of his 95-year-old mother after he retires. “[The board] also asked me to see what I could do to find someone to come in and be the high school principal and also might be a candidate to consider as my replacement as a succession. I felt like I’ve done that. This my 49th year [in education, 28 as a superintendent]. It’s time to go.”