August 22, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain’s Atkinson hired by Georgia Schools

Atkinson

Atkinson

ELYRIA — Lorain Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson is moving on to head the DeKalb County Schools.
On Monday, in a 6-to-3 vote the Georgia school board ratified Atkinson’s three-year contract with the district, and she is slated to begin her new position Sept. 15.

Atkinson’s formal hiring comes two days after she visited DeKalb County to meet with parents, teachers and community leaders. Atkinson was in DeKalb on Saturday for a meet-and-greet, and according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, which covered the event, “Atkinson came across as open, tough, seasoned and ready for the challenges of the fractured district.”

She talked a lot about improving student achievement and turning the district’s focus back to children.

Atkinson called for the addition of lacrosse and fencing to the sports program. In addition, she wants to see SmartBoards, interactive whiteboards, in every classroom and a laptop or iPad for every student.

In making the announcement Monday, the DeKalb School Board Chairman Thomas Bowen heaped praise on Atkinson and welcomed her to the district, which in recent years has struggled academically and is chronically one of the poorest-performing public school districts in Georgia.

“Dr. Atkinson is a highly respected and experienced educational leader with a proven record of lifting academic achievement,” Bowen said in a news release. “We are excited about our choice for superintendent and look forward to her developing and implementing a solid plan to improve student success in DeKalb County Schools.”

Now, that Atkinson departure from Lorain is official, the Lorain school board will turn its attention to finding her successor. A special emergency meeting is being planned for 3 p.m. today to discuss naming an interim superintendent to hold the position while the board looks for a long-term replacement.

Last week, Atkinson attended what was billed as her last official Lorain school board meeting and talked about what she thought would be her legacy in the district.

Despite students failing to meet 81 percent of standards on the latest state report card, Atkinson said she’s leaving Lorain Schools better than she found them. The district’s
latest report card has Lorain as being in continuous improvement, the first time the district has moved up a designation on the state report card in five years.

Atkinson will have a base salary of $275,000 per year in DeKalb, which is an increase over the $230,000 a year she made in Lorain.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.