ATLANTA – Since being hired in May 2011, Fulton School Superintendent Robert Avossa has set to work putting his own stamp on Georgia’s fourth largest school district, aiming not just for state accolades but for national prominence.
While there has been some grumbling about the pace of the reforms and the high expectations demanded of staff, the results have impressed the Fulton School Board, which voted last month to extend Avossa’s contract through May 2016. That tenure would make Avossa the longest serving superintendent for Fulton Schools since 2002, and nearly double the average stay for superintendents in Georgia.
Avossa’s salary will increase to $275,000 a year – from the current $238,000 annually. That’s substantial, but still below the pay for superintendents in Gwinnett and DeKalb and less than half the figure Atlanta Public Schools is floating to try and land a leader for the troubled school district. But the incentive to remain in Fulton goes beyond financial, he said.
“I’ve got school-aged children who are the major priority in my life,” said Avossa, who came to Fulton from Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) schools. “When I thought about the kind of school system available to me, Fulton County was very attractive…particularly [schools] in North Fulton.”
He said the opportunity to raise his family in a community with good schools, find a church to become a part of and “engage in the process of improving outcomes for all children” created the perfect package of what he was looking for in employment.
However, should Avossa seek to end his contract before June 1, 2016, a $100,000 buyout clause is in place. When pointed out that sum could be pocket change for some employers who wish to lure Avossa and pay the tab, the superintendent said his investment in the community trumps the lure of greener pastures.
“We are involved in this [community] as a family and I’m vested in the outcomes of the school system,” he said. “This is the place I call home now.”
Veronica Buckman, who is the co-president of the PTSA at Cambridge High School, welcomes the news the superintendent will be around for several more years.
“I have to imagine parents will be pleased with Dr. Avossa’s contract extension since it allows him to further manage the bold goals offered in Fulton’s strategic plan and an opportunity for him to witness the innovations in education launched by the new charter system governance structure among area high schools,” said Buckman.