Academic gains come with hefty price

Published 9:08 am Saturday, August 7, 2010

No matter what you’ve been led to believe by some people, Dr. Chip Zullinger is not the devil incarnate. He’s not an angel either for the matter.

What the now former Bertie County Superintendent of Schools is and has been is a man who works hard, but who has faults just like everyone else.

Over much of the past two years, Dr. Zullinger has been credited with his forward thinking, academic progress and his laid-back approach to serving as superintendent. We have done so in this space on several occasions.

It now appears those innovative ideas and academic gains have come at a hefty cost – more than $600,000 gone from the school district’s fund balance.

While the school district’s financial setbacks have been well documented, the academic gains of the district have also been easy to see. During the most recent school year, Bertie County Schools had six of nine entities that made Adequate Yearly Progress and two others that missed it by only one area.

A year earlier, the district had seven schools that met AYP.

Those academic gains didn’t just happen. It’s true that the students, teachers and principals deserve a lot of credit, but Dr. Zullinger, Assistant Superintendents Kenneth Perry and Carol Atkins and District Transformation Coach Tonya Horton deserve some of the accolades as well.

The school district made significant gains under Dr. Zullinger, but paid a price for it. Was the price worth it? We don’t know. We only know that the Bertie County Board of Education decided it was not.

What we hope is that the school board and Interim Superintendent Dr. Will Crawford will maintain the academic performance while working to get a handle on financial issues.

If the academic gains under Dr. Zullinger are lost, then getting the finances in order won’t matter much.