Byline: TERESA STEPZINSKI
KINGSLAND -- Two experienced Camden County educators are under consideration by the county Board of Education to lead the 9,600-student public school system.
The school board is planning to select on Thursday, Feb. 9, either Assistant Superintendent Gary Blount or Assistant Superintendent Will Hardin to replace retiring Superintendent Ann Proctor.
Hardin oversees school system finances and operations. Blount is responsible for the system's curriculum and student services and is principal of Camden County High School.
Hardin and Blount in separate interviews Friday gave the Times-Union an overview of their qualifications and priorities if selected as superintendent.
Hardin said he has diverse experience in many facets of education -- such as policy development, curriculum, construction and finance -- that make him the best candidate.
"Frequent opportunities for written and spoken communication with subordinates, peers, the public and elected officials at local, state and national levels required a capacity to successfully champion educational causes," Hardin said.
Blount also said his extensive experience makes him the best person for the job.
"My experience as a principal at the elementary, middle and high school level gives me a background unmatched by any other applicant," he said. "I know more about our instructional program and system than any other applicant."
Camden County is the second-largest public school system in South Georgia, next to Glynn County. Camden has nine elementary schools, two middle schools, a high school with a separate ninth-grade center, and an alternative school.
All of its schools met federal education standards for student achievement last year. The school system's budget projects expenditures totaling about $98 million.
Blount and Hardin have devoted their careers to public education in Georgia, especially Camden County schools. Each is respected by his peers statewide. Both have participated in state and national education conferences and completed many professional seminars.
Blount has 33 years of experience as an educator. Hardin has 24 years.
Hardin and Blount each began their careers as classroom teachers and advanced to become school principals, then district administrators.
Although they share the common goal of improving student achievement, Blount and Hardin have different ideas about how that can best be accomplished.
If appointed superintendent, Blount said his top priorities would include full implementation of the Georgia Performances Standards and ensuring that student achievement continues to improve. He wants to provide teachers with more staff development opportunities as well as make sure they have enough planning time to develop "high quality instructional units" to teach students the academic skills they need to meet the standards.
Blount also said the school system needs a comprehensive plan to address projected growth in student enrollment as the county's population increases.
The school system "must determine how many new students, in what grade levels and in what areas of the county" that they will be residing. It is essential that the system has plans in place to accommodate a variety of growth scenarios, he said.
"We must develop a growth plan for Camden County High School. …