After five years on the job and with one year left in her contract, Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer on Tuesday resigned, effective May 31.
“There just comes that time in life when you know that it’s time to retire, and professionally, I’ve accomplished many of the things I came here to accomplish. And personally and professionally, it’s just time that I retire and go enjoy life,” Scherer said.
The educator’s background is in special education and years of administration in school systems around Atlanta. She took the job here in July 2008. Her initial three-year contract was for an annual salary of $184,550 and, in 2011, she signed another three-year agreement.
The board approved Scherer’s request for release from her contract, Chairwoman Lily Baker said.
“We were fortunate to have had her as our superintendent, and we understand her moving on and wish her well,” Baker said, vowing to find a replacement “who best will serve our system and treat our children well.”
There is no problem with Scherer leaving a year early on her contract, Baker said, and she is grateful that the board has time to conduct a search.
Discussing how to move forward has been added to the agenda for a 9 a.m. Jan. 29 meeting.
“We’ve got to come together and decide who we’re going to allow to do our search, whether it’s a private agency or Georgia School Boards Association,” Baker said. “We as a school board have to come together and make that decision, and then we have to decide what qualities we’re looking for as a superintendent.”
Scherer said she timed the notice to give five months for a search and to possibly help orient a new superintendent.
In the meantime, she said she hopes the board allows her to operate normally.
“And certainly, we’ll work with the new superintendent to make that as smooth a transition as possible, she said”
Both Baker and Scherer said they had discussed the possibility of Scherer retiring as far back as last spring.
“She had kind of indicated it right at the beginning of school. You know, her husband has been seriously sick, and she feels that it is time for her to go home and do some other things,” Baker said.
Among Scherer’s accomplishments in Liberty, she cites academic gains in test scores and graduation rates.
“I think there’s been a climate change where people think more highly of their school system,” she said. “I think we’ve improved the image some, and we still have a long way to go.”
She cited recognition, such as Taylors Creek Elementary Principal Debbie Rodriguez being selected as Georgia’s 2012 national distinguished principal and the schools’ progressive use of technology.
The August opening of the Liberty College and Career Academy is another accomplishment, as well as near completion of 10 years of renovations at Bradwell Institute.
“Another thing that’s just beginning to emerge is the investment in the Brewton-Parker property, which is now the Performing Arts Center,” Scherer said. “It’s being utilized almost every day the rest of the month by somebody in the county.”
A report to the board Tuesday indicated that the Hinesville Area Board of Realtors, Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission and four school functions will be held at the facility this month.
The district also has had negatives during Scherer’s administration, including two lawsuits and a NAACP request that a third party investigate a 2011 bus incident.
When asked about regrets or unfinished business, Scherer said she hopes the relationship between the board, the school system and the community improve so the sectors understand each other.
“I’m not sure you ever finish that, but it’s something that is not where I think it should be yet,” she said.
“The thing that’s always frustrated me about this community is that there’s not a cohesiveness of everybody working together on one plan for the good of the community.”
Scherer’s plans for retirement include moving to Florida and spending time traveling and with her family. She worked remotely for seven weeks at the beginning of the school year when her husband was ill. Helping him recover continues to be a priority.