Monday’s Gainesville City School Board work session marked a significant point in the transition from outgoing Superintendent Wanda Creel to Jeremy Williams, Creel’s successor beginning July 1.
Williams was seated with the board at the table in the front of the room with a new nameplate in front of him. Creel did not attend the meeting.
Board Chairman Brett Mercer said Monday that Creel, Williams and the board have agreed to a transition plan that divides responsibilities between the two. Creel’s title continues to be superintendent, but more responsibilities have been given to Williams whose title is Chief of Staff until he officially replaces Creel as superintendent July 1.
“She is still superintendent at this point,” Mercer said. “She is to complete some work that is associated with the school year of 2016-17, but anything and everything as it relates to 2017-18 is his. We were trying to create something that was mutually beneficial not only to them but to everybody in the system.”
Creel said Monday that May 25 was her last day working regularly in the office. She is not attending board meetings, letting Williams handle responsibilities in those meetings.
“I just thought that as the team is preparing for the upcoming school year, that they needed to be able to make plans,” she said. “I’ve been in those situations where you’ve had two different people in the office and it was uncomfortable for the people who were working there. They needed to be able to create a relationship with the person who’s going to be moving forward into the upcoming school year. So, I just felt it would be easier for everyone if I wasn’t necessarily present in the office everyday.”
Creel did not say what she plans to do after July 1.
“There’s just some things that I’m still working with,” she said.
Williams said the plan allows him to get a head start in his new job.
“With Dr. Creel not physically here with us right now, it’s allowed me to get to know the staff much more intimately,” he said. “It’s allowed me to start building those relationships and the culture much sooner than I anticipated. So it really allows us to get a month ahead of schedule than what we were planning.”
Williams said Creel has been a great help during the transition. He worked nine days in May in Gainesville, working with Creel and other district leaders.
“We had a few really good conversations, but during June, she’s still available,” he said. “I can’t commend her enough for the way she’s handled this transition. I really have been very impressed with her and the staff. I’ve seen many (superintendent transitions) go wrong; I’ve seen many of them go too long; I’ve seen some go too short.”
Williams has worked with district and school leaders in recent weeks to make plans for the upcoming school year and beyond.
“The big thing that we’re focusing on is collaboration,” he said. We want to make sure that every voice is heard, that everybody’s got an opportunity to have that voice heard.”