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Decatur Superintendent Phyllis Edwards resigning


Decatur Superintendent Phyllis Edwards resigning

City Schools of Decatur Board of Education. File Photo by Carey O'Neil
City Schools of Decatur Superintendent Phyllis Edwards announced her resignation at the School Board's March 10, 2015 meeting. Photo by Carey O'Neil

City Schools of Decatur Superintendent Phyllis Edwards announced her resignation at the School Board’s March 10, 2015 meeting. Photo by Carey O’Neil

This story has been updated. 

By Carey O’Neil, contributor 

Superintendent Phyllis Edwards announced she will resign as superintendent of City Schools of Decatur at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

Edwards was hired as CSD superintendent in 2003. She plans to remain as superintendent to help the board until it finds her replacement.

“I am remaining flexible and I will do so and will basically stand ready to serve as needed, but I know this will be a process for you,” Edwards told School Board members. “This is a bittersweet time for me.”

Edwards will finish out the school year and has offered to stay on till the end of the year. She said she is leaving to spend more time with her family. She and her husband plan to move to her home state of Florida to be with her sister in law and daughter, she said.

“My leaving City Schools of Decatur will leave a huge void in my life,” Edwards said. “I wanted to come to the City Schools of Decatur to make a difference and I believe I have done so. I hope to leave CSD better than when I arrived.”

She received a standing ovation at the end of her announcement.

Edwards has a long list of accomplishments with CSD, and said she was most proud of her work starting Decatur’s nationally-recognized early childhood learning center. She expects the district’s biggest challenge in her absence will be growth, with all signs pointing to enrollment doubling by 2020.

“There’s never a good time to leave,” she said. “There’s never a time you can actually say, ‘My work here is done.’”

School Board Chairman Garrett Goebel said the board plans a “national search” for Edwards’ replacement.

“A transition is always something you want to go smoothly,” he said. “We are fortunate that Dr. Edwards has offered flexibility to her departure date in order to aid a smooth transition.”

Goebel declined to specify any qualifications he and other board members would look for in a replacement, but said they would seek input from the community. He said he hopes to have a replacement by the time Edwards leaves.

The School Board held a closed meeting on Monday morning to discuss a “personnel matter.”

The resignation comes at a precarious time for CSD. With enrollment increasing, the school system is pursuing a general obligation bond referendum. If the voters approve the GO bond, CSD will be able to borrow millions to pay for school construction.

After the announcement, the board unanimously approved the addition of several modular classrooms to its schools to address rapid enrollment growth.

The board decided on Mobile Modular as the district’s primary portable provider on February 10. Since then, the two organizations worked together to prepare for the 2015-2016 school year, which CSD expects will require six new portables for Decatur High School bringing the school’s total to 10, 12 new units for Renfroe Middle School and eight new classrooms to be split between Winnona Park and Glennwood. All units will be set up within the schools’ existing campuses.

The board approved as much as $240,590 for set up and design, plus up to $25,135 a month to lease the space for 36 months.

The board also approved the use of seven modular classrooms for this summer at Renfroe, along with parking lot stormwater and erosion management facilities for the school. They expect these projects to cost up to $5.32 million.