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Basham retires

WINTON – The man who has led the resurrection of Hertford County Public Schools is calling it a career.

Dr. Michael G. Basham, superintendent of the district, announced his retirement from public education Monday night at a meeting of the Hertford County Board of Education.

“I’ve enjoyed working with the board,” Dr. Basham said. “They are a good board. They care about the kids. I’ve also enjoyed working with the central office staff, principals, teachers, parents and students. This has been a good experience.”

Under Dr. Basham’s near three-year tenure as Superintendent of Schools, the district opened a Ninth Grade Academy, lowered the dropout rate, saw improvement in test scores and opened the C.S. Brown Student Development Center.

“We’ve been able to do a lot of things,” he said. “If you ask me what I’m most proud of, it would be a laundry list of things.”

Some of the projects Dr. Basham listed were clearing up the bottle neck of summer school students in his first year, the Ninth Grade Academy, the Early College High School, C.S. Brown, two new activity buses, staff development activities and, maybe the most important, he said, was a 10.3 percent growth in scores at Hertford County High School.

When he arrived in November of 2006, Dr. Basham said his past colleagues had said they respected his friendliness, integrity, availability and promotion of educational programs.

Those same characteristics were lauded by Bertie Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chip Zullinger when he spoke about Dr. Basham’s retirement Wednesday.

“Mike and I were fellow Virginia superintendents before becoming North Carolina superintendents,” Dr. Zullinger said. “Both of us have worked in high-performing districts in the past.

“I believe Mike will tell you that he enjoyed his work in Hertford County as much as anywhere he ever went and I would say the same about Bertie,” he added. “I think Mike really enjoyed what he’s done in Hertford County. He has always been focused on doing more things for kids.”

Dr. Zullinger said Basham would be missed.

“You can’t help but like him,” Dr. Zullinger said. “He’s a good person. He’s friendly and a man of integrity. I’ve never heard him speak a bad word about Hertford County.

“I’m going to miss him,” Dr. Zullinger continued. “I hate to know that he’s not going to be right down the road. Despite the rivalry of our high schools, we’ve become great friends.”

Dr. Basham said he hadn’t intended to retire so soon, but family issues, including an ill step-father, were requiring his attention. He also cited a desire to spend more time with his grandchildren.

The Hertford County Superintendent said he would continue to work through June 30, 2009 and had agreed to stay through August 1 if needed by the board.

He said he believed in the board’s ability to choose a good successor.

“I told them it is time to pass the baton, but it’s been a good experience,” Dr. Basham closed.