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“Thank you for be­ing so pro­fes­sional through this whole process,” said board mem­ber Kristy Gober.

Board vice chair Bernard Mor­gan added his thanks too and said “it’s been a long time com­ing.”

Board mem­ber J.P. Fos­ter said he was ex­cited for the board, for Atkins and the en­tire dis­trict.

“I think we know your heart and where it lies, so roll your sleeves up and get ready to work,” Fos­ter said.

Atkins said she was grate­ful for their vote of con­fi­dence and sup­port in her new role, and said she was ready to face the chal­lenges ahead.

“I want to take a mo­ment to say thank you and share my sin­cere ap­pre­ci­a­tion for this op­por­tu­nity to allow me to be su­per­in­ten­dent,” Atkins said. “It’s a true honor, and some­thing I will al­ways cher­ish. And with this board as a team, I think we have great things ahead of us.”

Fol­low­ing the vote, San­ders pre­sented his thanks to Greg Teems for serv­ing in the in­terim role dur­ing the past months, af­ter he was ap­pointed to the po­si­tion in March. Be­fore Teems re­turned to the au­di­ence and his job as as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent, board mem­bers gave their praise for his hard work and he was pre­sented with a plaque for his ser­vice.

“These directors and prin­ci­pals made it easy,” said Teems. “Give credit where credit is due to the great staff that we have. Ev­ery­thing we’ve done we’ve sat down and talked out ev­ery­thing that we needed to do, to make sure that we were go­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

Fos­ter added be­fore Teems left the su­per­in­ten­dent’s chair for the last time that he came into the po­si­tion in a dif­fi­cult time and faced the chal­lenge down well.

“He stepped into a role that we needed some sta­bil­ity, and Greg cer­tainly pro­vided that,” Fos­ter said. “It’s been a plea­sure work­ing with you as a board mem­ber as in­terim su­per­in­ten­dent, and you’ve been a great team mem­ber.”

Teems said he wasn’t in­volved in the hir­ing process, but was able to re­port that more than 25 can­di­dates ap­plied for the po­si­tion in the ini­tial hir­ing phase for the su­per­in­ten­dent.

Atkins, whose role as as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent be­gan in 2015, was pre­vi­ously the cur­ricu­lum di­rec­tor for the dis­trict for 10 years, and prior to that was principal at East­side El­e­men­tary for 3 years.

She also served as a teacher and as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent at East­side be­fore mov­ing up in the ad­min­is­tra­tion, with 26 years to­tal in the dis­trict.

Atkins holds de­grees from Shorter, West Ge­or­gia and Jack­sonville State uni­ver­si­ties.

Her pro­mo­tion to the dis­trict’s new su­per­in­ten­dent comes with a raise to $150,000 a year for three years with a bonus at the end of the third year to be paid out on a monthly ba­sis if she keeps the job on an an­nual ba­sis through the con­tract, and a pos­i­tive re­view of her per­for­mance by the board at the end of each fis­cal year.

Like with the travel stipend in the in­terim con­tract for Greg Teems, there’s only a $500 stipend in­cluded for her to use an­nu­ally for trips to con­fer­ences or events re­quired for Atkins to be present for work pur­poses. Atkins also gets 20 days of va­ca­tion.

Her con­tract stip­u­lates the same con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment as has been in­cluded for past su­per­in­ten­dents of the sys­tem, and it ex­pires in Au­gust 2020 be­fore it has to be rene­go­ti­ated.

Board At­tor­ney Michael McRae said that Atkins had no ad­di­tions or con­di­tions she wished changed in the con­tract, a first in his re­cent mem­ory for em­ploy­ment terms for the su­per­in­ten­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from the board, Atkins’ hire comes at the end of a four month process that was or­ga­nized by Ed­u­ca­tion­alPlan­ners LLC. They han­dled the process of gather­ing and in­ter­view­ing can­di­dates for the job, and also helped or­ga­nize two com­mu­nity in­put meet­ings with the board and two rounds of in­ter­views with can­di­dates meet­ing with the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion.

McRae thanked James Wil­son, a for­mer su­per­in­ten­dent him­self and con­sul­tant from Ed­u­ca­tion­alPlan­ners.

“He’s done an ex­cel­lent job along with his company,” McRae said.

Thanks were also given to for­mer board mem­ber Hal Floyd, who also took part in the process prior to his res­ig­na­tion in Au­gust.

Kevin Myrick / Stan­dard Jour­nal

Board mem­bers vote unan­i­mously to ap­prove a con­tract with Lau­rie Atkins to hire her as the new su­per­in­ten­dent over the Polk School Dis­trict. Not pic­tured: board mem­ber Jane Ham­lett.

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