HAMLET — Richmond County Schools Superintendent Dr. Cindy Goodman took her oath of office Wednesday morning, making her title official. But there’s no time to bask in her success. There’s much work to be done, she said.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with the number of well-wishers and people coming out and showing up in support of me,” Goodman said. “Celia Altman and I used to teach together 20-plus years ago. It really meant a lot to me that she was there. She was a veteran when I started. It was meaningful that she made that extra effort to show up.”
Goodman is Richmond County Schools’ first female superintendent. Previously, she referred to her appointment and swearing-in ceremony as a “non-event,” but it is certainly a historic one.
At the top of Goodman’s to-do list is setting the tone for the 2014-15 school year by working with administrators from all the county’s schools to hash out initiatives.
“Tomorrow, we’re holding our principals’ retreat,” Goodman said Wednesday. “All the principals will come and it will set the tone for the year. Our ultimate goal is always improving student achievement — but our student attendance is sorely lacking. We have got to improve student attendance. We are thinking of getting together with the judicial system for those cases where student absences are excessive. And we’re considering reaching out to the medical community hoping to discuss ways they can help us by encouraging parents, even when their children are sick, to get them back to school quickly as long as it is safe and possible.”
The state budget approved in the North Carolina General Assembly raises further issues for the school district, Goodman said. Although it has yet to be signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the governor has indicated it will become law, leaving teachers and teacher assistants wondering whether they will receive raises and, in the case of assistants, if they will have jobs.
“The verbiage of the legislation is a bit confusing, but Pam Satterfield is wading through it,” Goodman said. “She is trying to figure out exactly what cuts will be in terms of teacher assistants. We may end up still losing some of those positions after all.”
The budget calls for raises for teachers, but the largest of those will be used as tools to recruit new teachers to North Carolina schools.
“The raises will be an average of 7 percent. It’s a little deceptive,” Goodman said. “It’s heavily weighted in favor of our teachers with fewer years, and we need to do that to help recruit teachers to our state. But this budget heavily favors teachers in the first 10 years of their careers. The legislation was less kind to our more experienced teachers, some of whom may receive only a .03 percent raise.”
Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-817-2673.