Dr. James Whitson submitted a letter he was retiring at the school board meeting Tuesday night. (WRDW-TV / April 18, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, April 18, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He has been the head of Richmond County schools since Superintendent Dr. Frank Roberson got sick last year, but the acting superintendent has publicly announced he is retiring.
Dr. Jim Whitson made the announcement at Tuesday night's school board meeting and it's leaving many people to wonder what's next for the school district.
News 12 sat down with Whitson, who says retirement is bittersweet.
"You remember the very first day you walk into a classroom," he said.
Whitson began his first chapter 41 years ago.
"You think, am I ever going to make it in this profession?" he said.
Within the last year, he found himself acting as the head of the district. He has been filing in for Roberson, whose health limits him to working only six hours a week.
Whitson had initially planned to retire last year.
"But, I felt like I couldn't walk away from the district at that time and I decided it would be best I stay one more year," he said.
His retirement is effective at the end of the fiscal year. His last day is June 30.
So, come next year, who will lead the district?
"Our community, I can understand why they would be concerned, but we have very capable people in this district and they will do their job," Whitson said.
Is there a chance we could see Roberson return full time?
"That is a personal matter with he and the board -- and the board with him -- that's not something that I need to be aware of," Whitson said.
Those board members tell News 12 they will know that answer within the next 10 to 12 days after some evaluations with Roberson's physicians and insurance company.
"Leadership really just isn't Jim Whitson or Dr. Roberson. We have people in this building alone who have been here for 30 years. They know their jobs, they know where we are trying to go," he said.
As for Whitson, where does he plan to go?
"I spend a lot of time thinking about work, worrying about work. I want to spend a lot of time thinking about my grand and I have another grandchild on the way," he said.
Whitson has been with the Richmond County School System since 2009. Before that, he mainly taught in South Carolina.
The district could see up to two empty positions at the top if Roberson cannot return. We should know in less than two weeks.