Bryan Dorsey is officially the new Superintendent of the Stephens County School System.
The Stephens County Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Dorsey at its meeting Tuesday.
Dorsey then signed the contract and made his hiring official.
He replaces Sherrie Whiten, who retired last month.
Dorsey said it is great to sign on the dotted line and make everything official.
“I am so excited to be working with what is obviously a quality staff, very appreciative to the board, and look forward to this great new team that we have,” said Dorsey. “Just as we have been traveling around the community, it has a great feel to it and we have been blessed to meet a lot of interesting folks who have shown some tremendous kindness to us.”
Dorsey will start on May 1.
He said upon taking the job, he wants to make himself very accessible to the staff and the community.
“We are all stakeholders in our children’s future and I want to make sure that I am hearing from people, ‘Hey, these are things we are doing great and we need to hold on to them and here are some things we can make some small changes with and continue to move things forward’,” said Dorsey.
Dorsey said a main challenge the school system faces initially, like others across Georgia, is balancing the budget amidst tight revenues and rising costs in areas like healthcare.
“We certainly do not want to be asking a community to provide more resources than necessary, so we want to make sure we are running (efficiently) and providing our students with what they need,” said Dorsey.
Also, a major change coming next school year in Stephens County is the transition to a charter school system.
Dorsey said he has been a part of implementing two charter systems previously and is comfortable with the system and the process.
“I do think that it provides us yet more opportunities to put students in situations where it is flexible on how they earn credits, opportunities to be more involved in the community as a learner, to gain experiences that go beyond just books,” said Dorsey.
Dorsey said he feels another focus of a charter system can be to help expand students’ soft skills in areas such as courtesy and teamwork.
He comes to Stephens County from Gilmer County, where he served as superintendent from 2010 to September 2013, when the Board of Education there terminated and bought out his contract.
Dorsey said he understands any concerns people may have regarding that.
He said when he arrived at Gilmer County, the school system had an $8 million budget shortfall and tough decisions were made.
“I think after you make some tough decisions like that and elections turned over very quickly after we made those decisions without really time to benefit from the results,” said Dorsey. “There was a change in leadership and I think that relationship was so far apart. They wanted to go a different direction. I understood that.”
Overall, Dorsey said he is proud of what was accomplished during his tenure in Gilmer County.
“We actually increased the reserve fund over there to 50 percent of the operational budget, we lowered the millage rate about 1/2 mill this year,” said Dorsey. “Test scores went up in about 23 of 25 areas for the CRCT. Graduation rates increased.”
Dorsey said he feels if given an opportunity to meet with people, they will feel less apprehensive about that and understand he cares about the children and the community.
He thanked the community for being so welcoming and he looks forward to continuing to meet people in the community and giving his best to the Stephens County School System.