CONYERS – A former Georgia Department of Education official who now serves as a consultant for the Georgia School Boards Association will lead the Rockdale County school system while the Board of Education searches for a new permanent superintendent.
At a 7:30 a.m. called meeting Tuesday, the Rockdale BOE voted unanimously to appoint Billy Johnson, who worked full-time for the GSBA until his resignation in 2002, as the interim superintendent. Johnson has lived in Conyers since 1983 and has three children who are graduates of Rockdale County high schools.
Board member Darlene Hotchkiss was absent from the meeting.
Johnson will serve as interim superintendent as the board works to find a permanent replacement for Superintendent Sam King, who has resigned to take a superintendent position in Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia, effective July 2.
The board has enlisted the GSBA to conduct the search to find the system’s next superintendent.
Johnson said Tuesday morning he is not looking for a permanent position in the Rockdale School System but is pleased to be able to help out in the interim.
“I care very deeply about the school system here,” Johnson said.
As a consultant with GSBA, Johnson assists with superintendent searches and board development and has conducted training sessions for the Rockdale BOE. Johnson said he has served as an interim superintendent on three previous occasions.
Johnson said he had not offered his services as interim superintendent to the school system but was asked for his input.
“They called me and asked who is someone I might recommend,” Johnson said.
In subsequent discussion of what type of leader the school board was looking for, Johnson said “one thing led to another.”
The school board has agreed to pay Johnson $11,000 per month in salary. Other details were not available as the contract will not be finalized until next week, according to the school system. Johnson will assume interim duties on June 4.
School board Chairman Wales Barksdale, who has expressed regret over King’s resignation, said Tuesday he was pleased with Johnson as the interim superintendent.
“I think we are lucky, and since this has developed I know I’ve had a different feeling than I’ve had in the past couple of weeks,” Barksdale said.
Johnson said he began his career in education as a teacher in Dublin and Laurens County. After serving as the superintendent of schools in Laurens County, Johnson said he took a position with the state Department of Education as an associate superintendent and later as a division director. There his responsibilities included statewide curricula services, vocational education programs, testing and evaluation services, textbook adoptions and media services.
Johnson went on to work as a private consultant for state government agencies, private companies and individuals. He joined GSBA in 1999 as its board development specialist. He resigned in 2002 but continues to serve on the senior staff as a consultant, assisting with board development and superintendent searches.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree and sixth year degree in education administration and supervision from Georgia Southern University.
Johnson’s family has the distinction of having three children — each of whom graduated from a different Rockdale County high school.
“We’ve lived in the same house; we’ve been rezoned three times,” Johnson said.