Superintendent Wilcox Announces Retirement
Vidalia City Schools Superintendent Garrett Wilcox has announced his retirement, which will become effective at the end of the 2023-2024 school year.
During the Vidalia City Schools Board of Education’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 12, Wilcox told the Board that he would be retiring at the end of the school year. “Based on a conversation that I started last month, I am just going to go ahead and verify to the Board that I am going to retire at the end of this school year. I know you have things you have to do, so I wanted to go ahead and put that out there.”
Wilcox later elaborated on the decision. “I am just at a point where I can retire,” he explained. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity [to be superintendent], and look forward to watching [Vidalia City Schools] move forward.”
In preparation for Wilcox’s retirement, the Board unanimously (with the absence of Board Member Bruce Asberry) agreed to name current As- continued from page
sistant Superintendent Sandy Reid as the sole final candidate for the superintendent’s position. This naming was not a final action, and the Board will meet again to vote on the appointment of a new superintendent at a later date, which is anticipated to be Tuesday, October 10.
“Tonight, we accepted the upcoming retirement of Dr. Wilcox. He has served 11 years with us, and he has done a great job. We hate to see him leave, but we know his retirement will be sweet for him,” Board Chairwoman Julee Torrance remarked. “As we prepared to fill his shoes, we reviewed all of the eligible candidates within the school system for a possible sole final candidate, and we have determined that Dr. Sandy Reid will be our sole final candidate. This is not a final action – we will have 14 days of an open period by law, [and] at the end of the 14 days or thereafter, we will vote to make her our next superintendent of schools.”
When asked why the Board chose to review the school system’s staff for possible superintendents rather than interview outside potential candidates, Torrance said, “Dr. Reid has stood the test of time. She has helped us through many, many humps and lumps. Not only that, she is just exceptional in her work ethics, data digs, and everything that she does for the school system. Because of that, we knew that with that type of candidate in our school system, we did not have to go outside the system to find a superintendent.”
Reid also commented on the decision. “Vidalia City Schools is part of who I am. For the past 22 years, it has been a part of my everyday life. I completely understand how critical the role of the school system is in the success of the community, and at the end of the day, that means the world to me – the success of the students, the staff members, and the community. So, it is an honor to be considered for the position of superintendent, and as we go through this process the next few weeks, I look forward to working with the Board and working through questions about the vision and future for Vidalia City Schools. I’m just very excited.”
“With that being said, it is also very bittersweet because Dr. Wilcox has been such an integral part of the development of the school system, and it’s hard to imagine him not being here,” she continued. “I’m thankful for his leadership, his guidance, and the role that he has played as superintendent and principal within the last several years. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to have worked for him and really excited for what is to come.”
Though Reid is not native to Vidalia, she made it her home after moving here with her husband. “My husband is from Vidalia and graduated from Vidalia High School,” she shared. “I moved here after we were married, and his family has played a huge role in my life. Both of his parents were in education at Vidalia City Schools, so I immediately saw how powerful the impact of what Vidalia City Schools was having on the community.”
Reid added, “What has kept me here has been that exact same thing: family and community. Vidalia is a great place to raise kids – I had two kids that graduated from Vidalia High School. One is in Savannah now at Mercer Medical School, and the other is in Valdosta and is about to start nursing school. It is what they were provided within the Vidalia City School System that enabled them to be prepared for these postsecondary opportunities, and I want that for all students in our community. It may not be college – it may be that they are career-oriented right out of high school, it may be that they are technical school-oriented – but I feel like every student has something in them that can drive them to be successful in life, and I want to be a part of developing a system or continuing to work in a system that can provide that for kids and get that vision across to kids.”
If approved at the next meeting, Reid will assume the role of school superintendent beginning July 1, 2024.
In addition to this decision, the Board also approved the millage rate at 14.852 mills for citizens within the city limits. This approved rate is a 5.81% increase, totaling $32.60 for a home with a fair market value of $100,000, for those within Toombs County’s segment of the Vidalia City limits, and a 0.10% decrease, totaling $0.60 for a home with a fair market value of $100,000, for those living in the Montgomery County section of the city.
The Board also adopted a revision to the Public Participation at Board Meetings policy, which will now allow members of the public to sign up to address the board on topics related to the meeting agenda at least 15 minutes before the meeting.
The Vidalia High School tennis courts were approved to be resurfaced for $48,000, which will be funded through Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). Currently, the J.R. Trippe Middle School tennis courts are nearing completion of their resurfacing project, which is completed to fix the cracks and repaint the court. According to Wilcox, these renovations will allow the courts to be utilized for 5 years without issue.
Several items were voted on to be declared as surplus, allowing them to be sold. These items include several unusable weightlifting and strength training items which have been removed from the Vidalia High School weight room as a part of the facility’s remodel. Also, two portable buildings, which were previously used as classrooms, from Sally D. Meadows Elementary School were declared as surplus.
The Board approved the Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) budget for the year, and agreed to vote on September 22 on a possible change of date or time of the upcoming October regular monthly meeting.
During the monthly reports, Reid shared that the school system has planned 8 professional learning days for staff members during the year, one of which was recently completed. During this professional learning day, teachers from every school in the system spent time in training in a variety of subjects, such as math intervention training, core literacy training, specifically designed instruction training, formulated learning training, and more.
Reid also shared that the implementation of the new core literacy program had been very successful. After a trip to see how Colquitt County, which has been utilizing the program for two years and teaches the material in the classroom, Reid said she was very encouraged, as both the techniques and results of the instruction were very similar.
According to Reid, teacher and staff recognition will also be soon added to Board meetings. The monthly Oar Award, which celebrates staff who exhibit the characteristics discussed in a training book which employees are currently reading, will be presented.
During her report, Technology Director Sabrina Wiggs shared that the technology department had worked to upgrade the school’s Wide Area Network (WAN) so that the schools may better access and put in data to the network. She also shared that according to the online roster, the school system enrolled 2,400 students total – a number which she said she had not seen in years. “Normally, we sit at around 2,500 to 2,550 students,” she told the Board.