After serving eight years as the top administrative leader of the Jackson County School System during a time of massive growth and change, Superintendent April Howard is retiring.
The Jackson County Board of Education heard presentations from two firms on Oct. 18 about searching for a replacement for Howard. The board heard from both the Georgia School Board Association and King-Cooper & Associates about their process for helping the BOE hire a new superintendent.
“I consider it a privilege to have served the students and families of Jackson County,” said Howard. “I will forever cherish the wonderful people within the school district and throughout the entire community with whom I have been fortunate to serve alongside. It is a very special place with amazing students and potential as the community grows and changes. I look forward to focusing on my own children's next phase in life while continuing to be an advocate for public education and Jackson County School District's biggest cheerleader!"
Howard was name superintendent in 2013 amid a tremendous amount of turmoil in the school system. Her predecessor had been fired for failing to cut staff expenses and the system was facing deep financial difficulties from the impact of the Great Recession on the county's tax base, which had declined for the first time since the 1930s.
In a bid to bring the system's finances back into the black, Howard cut staffing and led a controversial move to consolidate some underused schools on the east side of the county, closing and selling two older facilities in the process. At the time, the system had reserves of only around $300,000. Today, the system's reserves are close to $20 million.
Howard also led the system through the construction and opening of the new Jackson County High School on the west side of the county and the creation of the new county Empower College and Career Center in Jefferson. She has also began the process of planning for a new middle school on the west side of the county and acquiring additional land in North Jackson for future school facilities.
She also helped bring the International Baccalaureate Diploma to the system and led the district to its highest high school graduation rates.
Howard began working in the JCSS in 2000 as a teacher at West Jackson Middle School where she later served as principal. In 2005, she was named curriculum director for the system and later served as assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.