Phillip Page said he was proud of what the Bartow County School System was able to accomplish during the 2018-2019 school year.
However, finding ways to most efficiently use the funding available to operate the county’s schools proved challenging, he said.
This year was Page’s first as superintendent after the school board hired him for the position in April 2018.
“This has been a great first year and I’m proud of how much we’ve been able to accomplish,” he said.
He said the Bartow community showed him it wanted to be part of helping the county school system improve its students’ skills.
“I’m pleased with how the community has been integrated to assist in improving the Bartow County School System,” he said.
“One example of this is our Read To Grow initiative where nearly 150 volunteers have been placed in four of our elementary schools to help students learn to read.
“There have been such great gains this year that we plan to expand Read To Grow to all 12 elementary schools,” Page said.
The school system was successful in a number of other areas this school year, as well, he said.
Cass High School added a cybersecurity course to its career pathways, Page said.
Students take the course online and have the chance to earn three certifications in the field of cybersecurity by the time they graduate, according to information from the school system.
Cass was to simultaneously train and certify an instructor and the first class virtually through a partnership with CyberTec Academy, a Nevada-based certification training company.
“Experts from Nevada provide instruction through distance learning,” he said. “Students are being prepared to meet the demands of the workforce and will be employable upon graduation.
Teachers also began working in professional learning communities systemwide during this year, he said.
“This allows time for teachers to collaborate in the morning to improve the quality of instruction in the classroom and maximize the impact on student achievement,” Page said.
“Research shows that students can experience more than three years of growth over the course of only one school year if professional learning communities are implemented with fidelity,” he said. “This will be monumental for our school system.”
Page said this year’s top challenge for him and his administrative staff was “navigating the financial budget.”
“Student learning is always the priority and we want to make sure teachers and students have the resources they need, but funds are not unlimited,” Page said..
The school district was to unveil its 2020 budget Monday, May 20.
It is operating on a 2019 budget totaling $175 million, which was a decrease from $192 million the previous year. The 2019 budget year ends June 30.
However, spending in the general fund part of the budget used for most operations increased from $115 million in 2018 to $122 million in 2019, according to documents on the school system’s website.
Page grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and earned his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of South Carolina, master’s degree from the University of South Florida, and doctorate from the University of Argosy – Sarasota.
He began his teaching career in Tampa, Florida, in 1990 where he taught at the middle and high school levels.
Page then served as a high school and middle school principal and assistant principal during 20 years with Cobb County schools.
He said nothing “really” surprised him about leading the smaller Bartow County School System after being a top administrator in the Cobb County system, which is the second largest school district in Georgia.
“There aren’t that many differences between Bartow and Cobb counties,” Page said. “In the end, we all focus on student learning and achievement, professional development, and providing the best environment for our students and staff.”
Page worked as an assistant superintendent in Cobb County — which operates 112 schools and has 113,000 students — before being hired to lead the Bartow system and its 21 schools and 14,000 students.