Grant-winning principal demoted, transferred

By: Jonathan Martin Email
By: Jonathan Martin Email

May 10, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Some big money is headed to an Augusta middle school. Officials at Glenn Hills Middle announced today they've been awarded a $1 million grant.

But now the school's principal, who worked to get the money, has been forced to leave.

Glenn Hills Middle School has some of the lowest reading and math scores in the county, and some school board members say this grant will help bring them up. But because of No Child Left Behind, Principal Hartley Gibbons won't get a chance to see it happen.

It's no secret Glenn Hills Middle School needs improvement. For the last six years, it has not met adequate yearly progress, and because of a lack of physical education resources, the principal says obesity is a big concern.

Today's announcement that the school will receive a $1 million grant starting this summer was more than good news.

"To have our students do something to keep them busy during the summer, so they will not be going down on Fourth Street," said Augusta Commissioner Calvin Holland.

The money will come over the next three years from the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

School officials say the money will be spent on a summer academic program, an after school program, and a new track, outdoor basketball and volleyball court, and putting green.

Principal Hartley Gibbons is being credited with getting the grant. But at tonight's school board meeting, he was demoted to assistant principal and moved to Butler High.

"I don't feel like he's been given adequate time," said BOE member Barbara Pulliam. "He needs to be here a little longer."

The demotion recommendation came because after three years as principal, Glenn Hills Middle is still failing. Gibbons says until now, there's been no resources to improve.

"You must have the resources," he told News 12. "Without the resources, it is difficult for anyone to meet the demands placed on principals and administrators."

Right now, according to school officials, over 50 percent of the students at Glenn Hills Middle need after school help--but funding only allows ten percent to get it.

And while the BOE must comply with No Child Left Behind mandates, some school board members feel sending a man down who's finally bringing a school up is a wrong move.

"I think the tremendous gains he's made have shown, and I think he needs to be given adequate time to do a good job," said board member Joe Scott.

The grant will also pay for a suspension program. When students are suspended, instead of staying home, they would have to attend a special program in Barton Village.

Two other Richmond County principals were moved out of their jobs after the meeting. Rickey Lumpkin, former principal of Tubman Middle, is now assistant principal at Cross Creek High, and Janie Norris, former principal of Morgan Road Middle, is now the Title I Coordinator.

Also at the meeting, seven new elementary principals were named to replace retiring principals.

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  • by Finally Location: outside GA on Jun 13, 2007 at 08:36 PM
    Mr. Gibbons always works vigorously! And while the $1 million grant is a success he also worked hard to get computers installed ALL over Glenn Hills Middle. That was the big solution just a few years ago. Lots of computers, work, effort, grant writing but still no AYP. Perhaps he tried to find a solution that he liked and then forced it to fit the "problem." There are fundamental problems at GHMS and Augusta public education that technology and Phys Ed will not solve. Getting a grant is great if the problem is grantlessness. Otherwise, work on the real and difficult and long term problem and stop distracting students, teachers and parents with exciting buzword "solutions" like technology or obesity. Having an all consuming "solution" can be the biggest waste of all if it distracts you from the harder problems that need real, practical solutions and follow through.
  • by Jabal Location: Augusta on May 29, 2007 at 10:28 PM
    Richmond County is full of things that are undercover! We have so many school system problems and no one is there to hear problems of the students, parents and other members of the community! We have good schools and we have bad schools and we have good board members and we have bad members! We just need to focus on the students and let the board handle their own disputes!
  • by Terry Location: homemaker on May 11, 2007 at 01:36 PM
    HOW is a putting green going to help with academic scores or obesity? Give me a break!
  • by Terry Location: homemaker on May 11, 2007 at 01:30 PM
    I haven't expected anything to make sense after a new principal transferred several award-winning teachers all at once out of A.R. Johnson upon her arrival, saying they were not team players. Maybe we should have asked this principal to explain her definition of "team". That might have been very enlightening. Morale hit an all-time low for a lot of parents when the extremely enthusiastic, supportive, and articulate Paula Baker was made to leave C.T. Walker Magnet School. She was fair, she listened, she was an excellent communicator, and she was a leader. I was an active, volunteering parent of honor students there, and I never heard anything negative about her at all, so it came as a total shock to me that anyone wanted her out. I am praying for all of our students' futures. ALL of our students.
  • by Margaret Location: Hephzibah on May 11, 2007 at 12:24 PM
    That's just like the system, always making a bad choice. I think if Mr Gibbons was responsible for getting this grant for the school he should be the one stay there to see it work. I think youall need to get some younger people on the board just like the commissoners, they need new younger people in there who know how life has changed, they are still staying with the way it was when they were growing up. That's why we are having so many problems in this world the system is broke, and you all don't know how to fix it, because you are still set in your own old ways. Get real.
  • by Jo Location: Greenwood on May 11, 2007 at 12:12 PM
    I'm sorry to hear that this principal was not only transferred but demoted as well. Too much responsibility is put on the educators and not enough on the parents. I understand that some parents are not able to help their children with their schoolwork, but I'm sure there are after school programs available to them. I don't think Kim should've homeschooled her children!
  • by Kim Location: August on May 11, 2007 at 06:37 AM
    It is not always the principles fault.Sometimes it starts at home.I say give him one to two more years.Give him a chance, stand behind him and see results.By the way I am mother of 5,I homeschooled.But it takes parental involment for schools to succed.
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