Future of Chavis unclear

By Greg Gelpi

With a new superintendent starting work next month, interim Superintendent William Chavis is faced with what to do now.

Chavis, who was named to the interim position amidst a storm of controversy, is leaving the top spot in the county as the controversy seems to be dying down.

Hundreds of county residents witnessed the firing of Superintendent Dan Colwell and the naming of Chavis in January 2003, but only a dozen or so have attended school board meetings recently.

Although in less than two weeks he will no longer be in charge of the school system of more than 50,000 students, Chavis said he hasn't decided what he will do when that happens.

Chavis has two contracts with the school system, one as interim superintendent and one as a senior administrator, Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis said. When new superintendent Barbara Pulliam takes over the reins of the county, Chavis' contract as interim superintendent will end and his contract as a senior administrator will begin.

"I have to talk to (Barbara Pulliam) and decide what it is she wants me to do," he said. "I'd rather talk to her before I comment. I owe her that much respect."

Chavis has accrued enough time to be eligible for retirement, Davis said, but Davis hadn't heard if he is considering retirement. Chavis wouldn't comment on the possibility of his retirement.

"He's got enough time in," Davis said. "He could retire if he wants to. If has made that decision, he has kept it close to his vest."

When Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Ed Scott asked Chavis about his plans, he got little response as well.

"I haven't had any affirmative answers," Scott said. "There hasn't been any real discussion between us to think of. I'm not sure what the superintendent plans to do. I'm not even going to speculate."

As interim superintendent, Chavis makes $119,000 after receiving a 1 percent cost of living increase. He will revert back to administrative assistant making $94,035.96 when Pulliam begins.

"That is my understanding of how it works," Davis said.

Before being named interim superintendent, Chavis worked as the administrative assistant, Davis said, explaining he worked as an assistant principal for the Evening High School.

Bending to public pressure, the board launched a true national search using the Georgia School Boards Association, which lead to the hiring of Pulliam as the school system's new superintendent.

Initially, Chairwoman Nedra Ware and her board supporters handpicked DeKalb County Assistant Superintendent Lonnie Edwards with some board members never seeing a complete list of candidates.