Below is an interview conducted via e-mail with Superintendent Ben Desper over the weekend. Click here for previous coverage of his retirement announcemet.
Obviously your announcement came quickly and after your contract had been extended. What prompted the change of direction?
I began to think about retirement in October of last year when the state offered a retirement incentive to those state employees who had over thirty years of work experience. The board of education was very generous to make contract changes to provide me an incentive to stay, however, now is really a good time in our family for me to make this change. I am very excited about beginning a new chapter of my life.
The demands and the rewards of this job are great, but your family must always come first. Along with spending more time with my family, I want to have the time and freedom to pursue some interests that I have had to put on the back burner for a few years.
The budget process has been somewhat contentious, but it appeared that you were near the end of it. Did issues that arose during it play any part in your announcement?
For Dr. Desper's answer to this and several other questions regarding the Pickens County School System, see this week's print or online edition.
Steve Burgess, 56, has been charged with possession of methamphetamines and intent to distribute following an investigation Monday afternoon that uncovered explosive materials in the man’s home.
At approximately 11 a.m. on Monday, June, 3 during the execution of a court order at the Talking Rock Highway residence just north of Annie's Restaurant, suspicious items were located that indicated the presence of explosives.
See our print or online edition for the rest of this story, which includes comments from Pickens County Sheriff's Office Leiutenant Kris Stancil.
[UPDATED: The school board held a called meeting Thursday. Following a lengthy executive session, it was announced that their attorney would handle details involved in finding an interim-superintendent who could quickly assume the top position in the system and the board would begin planning a search for a permanent replacement.]
In an e-mail to school board members yesterday, Superintendent Ben Desper announced his retirement, effective at the end of June.
School board chair Wendy Lowe confirmed that the superintendent had announced his retirement in a brief interview Wednesday. She said it did not come as a complete surprise to board members but there were issues that will be discussed in a meeting later this week.
Lowe said the board will need to decide how to proceed but she anticipated they would follow the same procedure as when Desper was hired – to first name an interim and then conduct a search for a replacement.
With the budget not finalized for this year, Lowe said it is important to have someone in the office to keep things moving, but she noted that with an experienced finance director, they shouldn’t have any added difficulties wrapping up the budget process.
See complete story in next week's print edition.
Brian Rittenberry with CAPAA Instructor Bay Cagle, Sharptop Strings members Kim, Carly and Grant Hipps at PCMS Arts Rally with Mr. Louden.
The vocal camp begins earlier in June with CAPAA instructor Raquel Rae, Nashville singer and songwriter. Raquel will work with campers to learn patriotic songs and work on voice technique on June 12, 19 and 26 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost for the camp is $100 ($90 if you register before June 1!).
At the first meeting, campers and parents will discuss the possibility of a July 4 performance if enough campers will be in town and available.
Visit www.CAPAAJasper.com to learn more about this camp, register online, or to discover our other great camp offerings this summer. Call 770-893-8185 with any questions. CAPAA is located at 95 Whitfield Drive, Suite A, Jasper, next to the Bargain Barn.
Rep. Jasperse calls BOE plans to cut funding “short sighted”
If the school board cuts funding to the Pickens County 4-H as they have indicated at recent budget workshops, programs offered to students will be “seriously impacted,” according to the 4-H manager.
“That’s what’s been proposed, cutting us,” said Pickens County 4-H Manager Clarcy Kirby. “Until we get the tax digest the school board can’t make the final decision, but the school is funding 50 percent of our program assistant position and benefits for that position, so if the cuts go through that will go down to a part-time position.”
See rest of the story in this week's print or e-edition.