October 31, 2006
He's led Richmond County schools for over a decade, sometimes with controversy for the way he's done it.
Today was the final day on the job for Dr. Charles Larke.
It's been one rocky road of a career for Dr. Larke.
But as of 5 o'clock, his time as superintendent came to an end...and he says that's okay, because he's leaving with what he really wanted.
After being the center of continuing controversy as superintendent of Richmond County schools, Dr. Charles Larke, the self-described country boy from Alabama, says he's ready to retire and move on.
"Well, you have mixed emotions," he told News 12. "You look forward to being stress-free starting at 5 o'clock today, then you realize you are going to miss all the people."
Larke says he couldn't be leaving with a better bang--dedicating the new Laney stadium, getting the annuities in his contract, and reaching 40 years in the school system--and he hopes his final gift will be the approval of the $230 million one cent sales tax package on the ballot in November.
"Every school will benefit from the technology and the textbooks," he said.
And symbolic of his first day on the job, Larke drove his antique Mustang, a car he hasn't driven to work in ten years.
While he's ready for the retirement ride, others are torn about his departure.
"He's been my mentor," said co-worker Lawrence Bennett. "He's been invested in my career since day one. I mean, he was in my wedding."
"I think Augusta's ready for a change, and I think a change would be good," said Richmond County parent Margaret Careway. "I think it would clarify a lot."
So it's a bittersweet bid goodbye from an educator who says he holds no grudges.
"I really feel good about everybody, and I hold no hard feelings at all," Larke said.
Larke will serve as a consultant for the board until March. That will give him 40 years in the school system for retirement.
Deputy Superintendent James Thompson will serve in the interim.
Some board members tell News 12 there won't be an active search for a permanent replacement until the first of the year.