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Liberty hires superintendent
Dr. Judy Burton Scherer starts July 1
Dr. Judy Burton Scherer - photo by File photo / Coastal Courier
Liberty County School System will have a new superintendent in time for the next academic year after the Board of Education unanimously agreed to name Dr. Judy Burton Scherer to the position.
Scherer has been the deputy superintendent for Douglas County for five years.
Officially named the first and only finalist in March, she also was a superintendent finalist in Floyd County, but the school system appointed their interim to the position permanently.  
Though it usually takes about nine months to decide on new hires, the board took a year in its search for the ideal superintendent candidate. Board members think they made the right choice.
"I feel she's going to be a good fit for Liberty County and for our school system," Lily Baker, BoE chairwoman, said.
Scherer mirrors the board's excitement.
Coming from a school system nearly twice the size of Liberty, Scherer recognizes "there will be adjustments to make and new things to learn."
She said during her first few months on the job, she plans to familiarize herself not only with BoE administrators, but with students, teachers and parents as well.
"I will spend the first few months getting to know the people, both on staff and the community itself ... seeing where we are and where we need to move forward to make it the best education possible for the students," she said.
Baker said Scherer's "concern about students being two grade levels behind," and her experience in "creating a program to help get those children back on track and become successful," particularly stood out to the board when the decision to hire Scherer was finalized last month.
As assistant superintendent in Coweta County, Scherer sat on the committee that developed and implemented the state's first model for a career academy.
Since opening in 2000, Central Educational Center in Newnan directly has contributed to lowering the county's high school dropout rate by 42 percent.
Scherer was a firsthand witness to the benefits of using businesses and education to "start training students while they were still in high school to have a meaningful skill when they left high school."
While the ultimate goal of a superintendent is to help students earn a diploma, Scherer explained the CEC wanted to get students to pursue some additional training.
"In today's society it requires more than a high school education, not necessarily a four-year college degree, but some kind of specific career or technical training in order to go out and get a meaningful job," she said.
The training and credits earned through CEC benefit students pursuing a vocational career or continuing on to a post-secondary college.
"What we tried to do was just raise the level for all the students," she explained.
Scherer is looking forward to becoming a part of the community, realizing it will take a joint effort with the public to provide the best opportunities for students.  
"I'm not coming in with an agenda to make a lot of changes," she said.
Her plans include collaborating with the board to "look at our strengths and look at what the next steps are to continue to make it a great system."
"I certainly don't perceive it as a system that's broken that I need to come fix," she said, "but rather as a place to learn and grow together."
Baker said when Dr. Scherer arrives and gets settled the board will hold an open reception to "let the community come in and meet her and let her meet the community."
"We're very excited about her coming to Liberty County," Baker said.
Interim Superintendent Harley Grove will remain a full-time employee through August to help the board with the transition of leadership.
In September, Grove will return to his previous part-time position as Title I facilitator.
Dr. Scherer signed a three-year contract April 15, effective July 1, for an annual salary of $184,550.40.
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