Butts County school board members, in a split vote Oct. 1, selected Todd Simpson as the new superintendent of the school system.
The vote was 4-0-1, with board member Clifford Marshall abstaining. He later said he was abstaining in favor of the other named finalist for the position, Irma Townsend.
The two finalists were named during the Sept. 16 school board meeting. Under Georgia law, school boards must identify finalists — or a sole finalist — at least 14 days before a formal vote to hire a superintendent.
Simpson previously has served as assistant superintendent for the Butts County School System. He was named interim superintendent in June with the departure of former superintendent Robert “Buddy” Costley, who had held the position since 2011.
Prior to his role as assistant superintendent, Simpson served for two years as principal of Jackson High School. Before coming to Butts County, Simpson was principal and assistant principal at Carrollton Junior High School.
Simpson’s three-year contract as superintendent calls for an annual base salary of $138,000.
Townsend has been an assistant superintendent in Colquitt County since January 2017, and previously served the district as director of human resources. Townsend also was the human resources director of the Enterprise City school board in Alabama for four years.
Butts County school officials said 43 completed applications were received for the superintendent vacancy by the July 7 deadline. Seven candidates were interviewed in two rounds. The board of education was assisted in the search by the Georgia School Boards Association.
“We had a very highly qualified pool of candidates with proven accomplishments in education reform, financial management, forecasting and academic excellence,” Marshall said in a statement. “As well, these candidates had proven track records of accomplishing high achieving initiatives. The Butts County School System superintendent position is not on-the-job training. The next leader should be capable, responsible, equipped and poised to move the system forward — not backwards. For this reason, I vote in favor of Dr. Irma Townsend.”
Simpson, following the Oct. 1 meeting, said he was thankful for the opportunity to serve as superintendent and excited about moving the system forward.
“I’m excited about the opportunity before us as a governance team and as a school system,” Simpson said. “I’m appreciative of the opportunity. As I’ve shared with the board many times, I believe in our team and I believe in our kids and I believe we can accomplish amazing things. I’m just excited about the opportunities ahead and I’m very humbled by the confidence they’ve shown in me and my leadership ability, and I’m excited about the work ahead.”
School board chairman Millard Daniel said Simpson was as qualified for the position as any candidate. “We just felt like Dr. Simpson was a good fit for Butts County. He was well qualified, as qualified as any of the candidates that we had. We just felt like he, being in the system, knows the system, knows the personnel, he can just start from Oct. 1 and move forward,” Daniel said. “There’s always that concern with bringing a new person in, that you have a time of adjustment, of transformation. And we just felt at this time we didn’t need any down time. We’ve got a purpose out there and we need to improve our system, and we felt like Dr. Simpson was the person for the job.”