MARIETTA— As expected, the Cobb County Board of Education named Chris Ragsdale, deputy superintendent of operational support, as the sole finalist for interim superintendent during a 9:30 a.m. press conference Thursday at district headquarters.
Ragsdale was selected from among seven candidates to fill the role left by Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who announced in February he was resigning effective May 31 to move back home to Dallas, Texas.
Board of Education Chairwoman Kathy Angelucci said Ragsdale will be officially named interim superintendent on April 24. His term will last from May 2014 to May 2015. Both the board and Ragsdale said it was “premature” to speculate whether Ragsdale might stay on beyond next year.
“Time will tell,” he said.
Angelucci pointed out that three school board members are up for re-election this year, saying she didn’t want to tie the hands of the next board.
Ragsdale came to Cobb in 2006 when he was hired by then-Superintendent Fred Sanderson as chief information officer. He held the same position at Paulding County Schools during his time there from 1992 to 2006.
Peppered with questions about the upcoming budget situation, Ragsdale hinted that the school district might be able to return to a 180-day school year and eliminate furlough days, though he said it will take time.
“We want to provide teachers with an optimal environment,” Ragsdale said.
With the promotion, Ragsdale’s pay will jump from $135,000 to $185,000. Hinojosa’s base pay was $247,625.
As Cobb’s deputy superintendent of operations, Ragsdale oversaw a staff of about 2,000, including such departments as technology, SPLOST, construction, maintenance and safety.
Ragsdale, 45, was born in Marietta’s Kennestone Hospital and grew up in Paulding County, where he lives with his family, including his 12-year-old daughter. His mother, Brenda Ragsdale, is a retired Paulding County elementary school teacher, and his father, Glen, retired as vice president of an industrial air-conditioning company.
Ragsdale received a bachelor of science in information systems at Kennesaw State University and is enrolled in Shorter University’s executive MBA program.
John Adams, executive director of Educators First, a nonunion professional association representing about 2,000 teachers, the bulk of whom are in Cobb, is a former Cobb police officer, teacher and Cobb School District human resources director. Adams said he’s known Ragsdale for 11 years and worked with him closely for a majority of that time. Adams said if the board appoints Ragsdale as interim superintendent, it would be “a great decision.”
“It represents a bold departure from the same old, same old,” Adams said. “It shows that the board is willing to do something different to try to get an even better result. I think it’s a great opportunity for the central office to restore the trust of the teachers and the people on the front lines.”