Fayette Superintendent Barrow postpones retirement

Fayette County School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow gives update on school operations changes because of Covid-19. Photo from system's YouTube video.
Fayette County School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow gives update on school operations changes because of Covid-19. Photo from system's YouTube video.

Superintendent Jody Barrow planned to retire at the end of June and told the Fayette County Board of Education to start looking for his replacement. Those plans have changed with the issues surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. Barrow has postponed his retirement for a few months until times are more certain.

Board Chairman Scott Hollowell on his Facebook page noted that, “The Fayette County Board of Education asked for Dr. Barrow to postpone his retirement for a few months. Dr. Barrow has graciously agreed and we welcome his steady leadership during these uncertain times. The Board is grateful for all the hard work that Dr. Barrow, the senior staff, principals, teachers, nutrition team, transportation, nurses, custodial staff and all the others who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.”

Hollowell’s comments came after the May 11 called meeting where Barrow’s resignation was rescinded by a unanimous vote.

Hollowell prior to the vote Hollowell said the school board had asked Barrow to postpone his retirement until such time that a superintendent can be identified and hired, and a transition time be completed.

Hollowell noted that the search for a superintendent continues with the help of the Ga. School Boards Association, with the posting closing later this month.

“Hopefully we’ll be getting candidates the first part of June,” Hollowell said. “We just thought as a board, there’s a lot of planning to be done this summer. There’s a lot of uncertainty still surrounding what the school year could look like this fall. For consistency sake, we’ve asked Dr. Barrow to postpone his retirement.”

Concerning the decision, Barrow said, “In times of crisis, consistent leadership is a must. After 40 years of service, I am looking forward to my retirement. Still, I understand the importance of keeping the work and future planning of the school system on track and moving forward without negative disruption.

“Schools will open in the fall, but it is highly likely that many aspects of school operations will look very different. This planning is already underway. Postponing my retirement will allow planning for 2020-2021 ‘new school normal’ to continue, and the board of education will be able to find the right superintendent to take the reins going forward. I care very much for our students, the system, and our community in general. I hope that this extension of service will help serve and ‘steady the boat,'” Barrow said.

Commenting on the decision, school system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach said Barrow has help the system navigate uncharted waters during the past two months of the pandemic, adding that there is more work to do before the pandemic comes to an end.

Berry-Dreisbach noted a recently conducted a communications survey, with one of the questions pertaining to stakeholders’ confidence in the leadership to make the right decisions moving forward. An overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they had great confidence in the leadership, she said.

“This is a credit to both Dr. Barrow and the members of the Fayette County Board of Education,” said Berry-Dreisbach. “Every decision has not been perfect, but the way we have handled the situation has been well received by our parents and employees. Dr. Barrow’s selfless decision to put the school system ahead of his future plans means a lot to all of us, and for that decision, we are extremely thankful.”