Updated Fri, Jun 20, 2014 10:14 am
Changes are coming to Athens City Schools, but not quite yet.
In a move approved by the Athens City SchoolBoard during Thursday’s regular meeting, current Supt. Carl Martin and Associate Supt. Tom Gibbs will swap roles effective on Aug. 1, 2015.
Under the plan, Martin will step down as superintendent on July 31, 2015, as will Gibbs from his position. Effective the next day, Gibbs will be employed as the superintendent and Martin will be employed as the associate superintendent.
“This was largely motivated by Carl’s plans near the end of his career,” said Gibbs. “While both are demanding roles, the superintendent has more responsibilities with events and things occurring on evenings and weekends. He is at a point in life that he wants to take a step back. I am moving in a different direction.”
So why make the move official now, a full year before it will occur?
“I suggested (the school board) formalize this now, if they felt so inclined,” said Martin. It was something he felt the Board would strongly support, and it did with the formal approval on Thursday.
“I am totally confident with the decision, but I’m not totally ready to retire,” said Martin. “It is good for the district to implement a strategy of continuity of leadership.”
Gibbs added that the timing of the switch is beneficial in that he is nearly finished with his doctoral degree and writing his dissertation in the fall.
While the plan may seem sudden to some it has been in the works for as long as two years.
“I approached the board two years ago to discuss the need to plan my exit or a transition. I knew Dave McAllister, the business manager, was going to retire (in 2013), and it was a good time to start working on an exit strategy,” said Martin.
When it came to hiring a replacement for McAllister, Martin recommended the hiring of Gibbs as the associate superintendent because the Board might be interested in him as superintendent in the future. Bringing Gibbs on board in August gave the board a chance to know him and evaluate his work as a potential successor, according to Martin.
Martin spoke highly of Gibbs and the experience he brings to the role.
“He has nearly 10 years experience as a superintendent and has also been a building principal and a teacher. He lives in the community and is well respected throughout various education organizations in the state,” said Martin.
Gibbs, a former principal at Warren Local Schools in Vincent, served as superintendent at Warren for eight years. When Fort Frye Local Schools, located 14 miles north of Vincent, couldn’t find a suitable superintendent in 2012, the district’s board members decided to try sharing both the superintendent and the treasurer. Gibbs served both schools as superintendent prior to joining Athens City Schools.
“i’m excited to be here. It’s a great community to live in, and my daughter attends school here. It’s been great to get to know the communities that make up Athens City School and to get acquainted with staff and students. I look forward to continuing that,” said Gibbs.
In his role as associate superintendent, Gibbs manages the support functions of running the district — areas like transportation, building and grounds, security and possibly food services. In the role of superintendent, Martin has overseen the academic aspects of the district. Gibbs has recently started to take on some of the duties which are typically left to the superintendent.
“We are working toward transition,” said Gibbs. “I have started taking a little bit of the duties, meeting with the district leadership team and working with technology.”
When he leaves the role of superintendent next summer, Martin will have spent 20 years with Athens City Schools and close to 34 years overall as a superintendent. Martin has been with the district since 1995, beginning as the superintendent at that time. He retired and was rehired in 1999 as business manager before becoming the superintendent again in 2000.
“I am looking forward to the role,” said Martin of becoming the associate superintendent. “I will be working in a capacity to help the district and serve the Board and district.”
Both Martin and Gibbs will begin new contracts when the switch becomes effective on Aug. 1, 2015. Those contracts will be for five years, running until July 31, 2020.