Ragsdale will succeed Dr. Michael Hinojosa as of April 24 and is scheduled to serve through May 2015. The board’s move obviously positions Ragsdale at the head of the line when the board gets around to searching for a full-time successor to Hinojosa.
The board correctly resisted the temptation to hire a permanent successor now. Such a hire would have been inappropriate because with three of the seven seats on the board slated to be filled via this year’s elections, it would have saddled next year’s new school board with a superintendent not of its choice. While a certain amount of friction between a board and superintendent is often a good thing (we’ve seen far too much “rubber-stamping” of superintendents’ desires by the Cobb board in the past decade), forcing a board from the outset to “make do” with a super who does not share their general outlook or philosophy would be a recipe for continual problems.
Interestingly, the board chose its interim super from the operations side of the business, rather than the classroom side.
As Educators First executive director John Adams put it, “There were lots of folks, obviously, they could have chosen who were career educators, what (former board Chair) John Abraham used to call ‘educrats.’ Chris is not one of those. Chris is a technology guy and has tremendous knowledge and control of a huge part of the district’s budget. He’s a technology and operations guy, and that’s going to be at least as important to teachers as someone who has a more traditional background.”
Ragsdale is presently deputy superintendent of operations overseeing a staff of about 2,000, with responsibility for technology, SPLOST, construction, maintenance and safety. When a surprise morning snowstorm blitzed metro Atlanta in late January and stranded 80,000 Cobb students aboard school buses as they tried to edge homeward on iced-over roads, Ragsdale helped coordinate the efforts by Cobb school police and the National Guard to rescue them, according to School Board Chairwoman Kathy Angelucci. He worked 36 hours straight in the process — a sharp contrast with Dr. Hinojosa, who headed home from the Central Office just after lunch.
Hinojosa announced in February he would resign effective May 31 — seven months prior to when his contract was due to expire — to return to his native Texas.
From the outside looking in, the board’s selection of Ragsdale as interim appears to be a wise one.
Again, we quote Adams: “It represents a bold departure from the same old, same old. 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.”
We wish Ragsdale and the system the best as he avails himself of that opportunity.