March 15, 2013

Whitfield school board’s statement on the hiring of Gilreath

— The Whitfield County Board of Education is excited to announce the promotion of Dr. Judy Gilreath to superintendent. Dr. Gilreath joined Whitfield County Schools in 2001 and has served the system in multiple leadership roles, most recently as Assistant Superintendent for Student Support. In addition to more than 25 years of experience in education, she was a business owner for 10 years. Based on her job performance and leadership, we are confident in her ability to lead our system. We are thankful for her willingness to take on this important role and join the board in our efforts to make Whitfield County Schools one of the very best public education opportunities in the state of Georgia.

The past few years have been challenging for our community. The recession landed a direct hit on our local economy and we have all felt the repercussions. Specifically within Whitfield County Schools, we dare say we have experienced unprecedented times and we are not alone. Few school systems across the state have been immune and many are struggling to stay afloat; however, we are proud of our schools and optimistic about the future.

All five of our board members were either raised in or have lived in our community for more than 20 years. Three of us have less than three years tenure on the board and one of us is still in his first 90 days, yet we have experienced and dealt with more than the average school board. Until now, our focus has been concentrated on finances, school construction and attempting to overcome recent history. We feel a real sense of obligation and urgency to refocus our time and efforts on the sole reason public schools exist — the education of our children.

For some time now, it has been this board’s desire to define and establish a “System Report Card.” Just as we grade and hold our students accountable for their performance, we feel the same should apply to this board and Whitfield County Schools. Our community and our citizens have provided tremendous financial support to our students and our employees. We believe it is only fair for them to see the return on their investment. It is crucial that the priorities of the board align with our system’s leadership and teachers. We believe strongly that Whitfield County Schools can achieve so much more if our focus, our priorities, and our efforts are aligned so we work in unison.

Today, more than ever, we must maximize our limited resources. Serving more than 13,000 students in 23 different school buildings makes us a complex system. With more than 1,500 employees, we know we have the brainpower and the willpower to get through these tough times.

What are the primary drivers of the quality of education? What creates the best possible learning environment for our students? What brings out the best in our teachers? When we focus all our efforts on the same objectives, great things will happen. Following our belief that “what gets measured, gets done,” the development of a System Report Card is priority No. 1 for your board of education.

Another focus for this board is to make sure the support, administrative and leadership resources and systems of Whitfield County Schools are designed to ensure the effectiveness and success of our classroom teachers and our students. We are committed to doing all we can to avoid cutting jobs or shifting costs to school system employees. We are a people-intensive and people-dependent operation. We must give our teachers the reassurance that the best place for them to be is in Whitfield County; therefore, we must be also be the best we can be outside the classroom.

It starts with our system and school leadership ensuring that all operations and activities outside of the classroom directly support success in the classroom. Starting with leadership, all areas of Whitfield County Schools will be reviewed and are subject to change in our efforts to provide the best design to meet current needs and prepare our students and staff for the future. We commit not to displace any employee who is equally committed to putting the needs of our students and the system first.

Lastly, in recent meetings and discussions, board members have been reminded both politely and sometimes with brutal honesty that the child must come first. We assure you this board is focused on the success of our students. We believe our students are at the center of all we do and hope this board’s past, present, and future actions reinforce our commitment to the students of Whitfield County Schools. We also know many stakeholders and partners are involved in the success of a public education system. We cannot do this by ourselves. Each of us has a role and a responsibility in the success of public education, and if any one of us fails to do our part we will never be as good as we can be.

We pledge to clearly define our role, our priorities, and our progress. It is our goal that the performance of Whitfield County Schools — good and bad — will be clearly understood by all and our efforts to make our schools better will be just as visible.

We are excited to have Dr. Gilreath’s leadership as we continue on a journey that does not have a final destination and confident in her ability to bring together the tremendous talent and resources within our system and our community. We will work hard to provide her and the leadership team the support they need to meet all our students’ needs. More than anything else, this board will attempt to conduct itself in a way that will help future board members spend their time and efforts taking Whitfield County Schools even higher. We hold ourselves accountable to our students, our employees, and to our fellow citizens. As board members, we also hold one another accountable and ask you to visit future board meetings and work sessions to help us improve Whitfield County Schools.


Chairman Louis Fordham

Vice Chairman Bill Worley

Board Member Thomas Barton

Board Member Rodney Lock

Board Member Tony Stanley