Greene County schools get official release from state

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2005

EUTAW-Since October of 2002 Greene County schools have been working and waiting. Monday afternoon that hard work and patience paid off as the system was officially released from state control.

Representatives of the Alabama State Board of Education to present a resolution granting them their official release.

Wendell Summerville, the Greene County School Systems Chief Financial Officer said this was indeed a banner day for the system.

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“This is a red letter day for Greene County schools,” Summerville said. “We have waited for this day for several years and today it is here. This has been no small task.”

Summerville said the process had taken a great deal of hard work, but they had gotten a lot of help and advice from the state.

“The state has been very helpful throughout this process,” Summerville said. “We got to know each other very well over the last few years and we appreciate them very much. We will continue our relationship.”

Summerville said the concept of a team effort had been established and now they hoped to keep their momentum going.

“Our ultimate issue here is to try to make a better school system for the children of Greene County,” Summerville said. “I think that is what we are trying to do. With everybody’s support and help we can make the next step.”

State Superintendent Dr. Joseph Morton said he was proud to be in Eutaw for the big event. Morton said they had watched the systems improvements with anticipation and were proud to see the big day arrive.

“It is a grand day to be in Greene County,” Morton said. “We have waited for a long time to bring this document before you. Today that day is here.”

Morton had been involved with the process for over a year and said he was very impressed with the work ethic and accomplishments of the school system.

“We have spent almost 18 months together talking about improvements that need to be made,” Morton said. “You have done a wonderful job of making those improvements and we are proud of you. I am really proud to say it is a grand day for Greene County.”

Greene County Superintendent Dr. Douglas Ragland said they could not have done it without the support they were given.

“We have been so grateful for the support of the community,” Ragland said. “It is not a unilateral accomplishment. It is a team effort and with the local support that we have and the state department officials we were able to accomplish it.”

Ragland said they were now hoping to move forward and continue to build on their mountain of accomplishments.

“We are certainly looking forward to maintaining this,” Ragland said. “We are not only looking forward to maintaining it, we are looking forward to enhancing it.”

Being released from state intervention was no easy task for the system. It took several accomplishments, including a huge reduction of debt. When the state was forced to take control the system was $1 million in debt. Through several actions, including the passage of a six mill ad valorem taxes, the system was able to escape that debt. They system has also paid up all accounts and paid back loans in a timely manner.