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Billy Johnson appointed interim superintendent
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Interim superintendent Billy Johnson - photo by Rockdale County Public Schools

 Georgia School Board Association consultant Billy Johnson was appointed by the Rockdale County Board of Education to serve as the interim superintendent during the school system’s search for its next leader.

Johnson will be paid $11,000 per month to oversee the daily operations of the school district until another superintendent is hired. Johnson will start Monday, June 4, 2012.

Board Chairman Wales Barksdale said Tuesday that the superintendent search would last about 3 to 5 months.

The longtime Conyers resident was chosen by Barksdale and fellow board member and vice-chair Jean Yontz, after they had initially sought out his advice on who to pick to serve in the interim role.

Barksdale believed that Johnson’s connection with the county as well as his academic background would best serve the school system’s interest.

“He has a knowledge of the community and the needs of its students that other interims would not have,” said Barksdale.

Johnson’s family has lived in the Conyers area since 1983, where his wife was a teacher with Memorial Middle School until she retired in 2000.

Each of his three children attended the three high schools, Heritage High School, Rockdale County High School and Salem High School after being twice rezoned due to the rapid growth of the county.

Johnson is also no stranger to the superintendent role, after twice serving as an interim for Bartow County and once in Haralson County back in the late 90s.

His extensive experience in education dates back to his first job as a science teacher in the Laurens County school district in 1964.

For over 47 years, Johnson held various positions as teacher, coach, assistant high school principal, elementary school principal, high school principal and local school superintendent in Dodge County, Dublin City and Laurens County. 

At the state level, he worked for the Georgia Department of Education in various positions, including managing the vocational technical education programs as a state director.

As the associate state superintendent his role entailed directing the state’s k-12 curricula, testing and evaluation services, textbook adoptions and media services.

From 1982 to 1996, Johnson worked for GDOE serving under the former state superintendent of schools Dr. Charles McDaniel until his untimely death in March of 1996, when McDaniel passed away in his office. He finished his tenure under Dr. Warner Rodgers, who took over for McDaniel.

For a time afterward, Johnson worked as a consultant with various state agencies, including the Georgia Dept. of Labor under then labor commissioner David Poythress as well as some insurance companies and local school boards as a consultant.

Johnson’s relationship with GSBA started in 1999, when he has hired as the organization’s board development specialist. For three years he developed programming and instruction to train local school boards on effective management.

He retired in November of 2002, but has continued to work with GSBA on a consulting level holding workshops and seminars with various school boards in the state on ethics, management tools and technology as well as training for a GSBA superintendent evaluation program that correlated with the passing of the A+ Education Reform Act, which among other things, permitted school personnel to be evaluated on their performance.

He also assists with superintendent searches.

Mr. Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree and sixth year degree in education administration and supervision from Georgia Southern University.

Johnson’s appointment comes at a time when the school board is facing the loss of several of its members as well as fierce election battles, on top of finalizing a nearly $124 million school budget.

Current superintendent Samuel King’s last day is June 30, the latest deadline for the budget to be approved. Board members Jean Yontz and Darlene Hotchkiss will not run again for their positions. And Brad Smith and Don McKinney face an uphill battle as several challengers vie for their seats. Barksdale is running unopposed this year.

If the superintendent search goes through the fall as expected, Johnson will start the new school year during a shakeup in board politics, as well as a school system adapting to statewide changes to the academic curriculum.