CONYERS — The Rockdale County Board of Education on Thursday approved a three-year contract extension for Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts.
The vote came following an executive session discussion at the end of the board’s work session. The vote was 5-2, with members Wales Barksdale and Heather Duncan opposed.
Based on Oatts’ new contract, he will receive a 7.5% pay increase, effective July 1, 2021, bringing his annual base salary to $231,940. Oatts was hired in May 2018 at a base salary of $190,000, with an annual incentive bonus of up to 5 percent based on performance.
“We appreciate Dr. Oatts for his leadership, engagement and commitment to the well-being and success of our students, families and employees,” said board Chairwoman Mandy North in a statement released by the school system. “Dr. Oatts has done tremendous work the past two years, especially during these challenging times. He has gone above and beyond to set up Rockdale’s families for success and prioritized the safety of our students and staff. We applaud his accomplishments and look forward to his continued leadership.”
Vice-Chairwoman Pam Brown also had words of praise for Oatts.
“Dr. Oatts has done an awesome job as superintendent of Rockdale County Public Schools,” said Brown. “He has consistently demonstrated a strong work ethic in carrying out his job. He has accomplished so much during the last two years. I particularly applaud his exemplary leadership during this pandemic. Great leaders must often make tough decisions.”
Oatts expressed his appreciation to the board for its “vote of confidence.”
“I am indeed fortunate to work with such an exemplary board that prioritizes students’ and staff’s safety and well-being as well as their learning, achievement and growth,” said Oatts.
Now in his third year as superintendent, Oatts has amassed a number of accomplishments. Last fall, the 2019 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) results showed Rockdale County Public Schools’ first aggregate increase in its CCRPI Score in nearly four years. RCPS saw net gains in content mastery for the first time in several years, and middle schools saw increases in achievement and progress, which resulted in middle schools exceeding the state’s performance by more than six points. Readiness scores increased at the elementary, middle and high school levels as measured by the CCRPI, which included an increase at the high schools in the Career, Technical, Agricultural Education (CTAE) pathway completion rate. RCPS also saw an increase in its Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate over the previous year.
Oatts has also led improvements to the district’s security infrastructure, including an acceleration of capital projects designed to enhance student and staff safety at each school site.
“I made a commitment almost immediately upon being sworn in that we would have all the remaining safety vestibules constructed at each of our schools before students returned for the 2019-20 school year,” said Oatts. “We kept that commitment, and we continue to establish additional layers of security at each of our school sites.”
Oatts said he has also focused on the school system’s finances.
“As superintendent of schools, I take our finances very seriously,” he said. “As one of the few debt-free school districts in the state, we thank our citizens for their overwhelming support of our E-SPLOST V referendum in November 2018.”
That E-SPLOST is currently funding two major construction projects – the new J.H. House Elementary School and the renovation and construction of the new RCPS Central Office Complex at the former Pine Street Elementary School site.
Oatts has also successfully recommended to the Board of Education three consecutive property tax millage rate reductions for fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021.
“I am very proud of the decisions we’ve made during my tenure regarding our district’s finances which have, in part, resulted in our district having significantly increased its fund balance within the last two years. Our fiscal management as a governance team is to be commended,” said Oatts.
In addition, Oatts, as part of an intergovernmental initiative, took the lead on working with Georgia Military College (GMC) to establish a Dual Enrollment institutional partnership as well as negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding that resulted in GMC agreeing to establish a collegiate presence in Rockdale County in early 2021 at the current RCPS Central Office location.
“During the last year, I’ve been in constant communication and collaboration with GMC on the prospect of bringing GMC to Rockdale County. As superintendent, my main objective for the GMC partnership is to afford our students an accessible and seamless postsecondary educational opportunity. Additionally, Rockdale County and the surrounding region could benefit from such a strategically located collegiate presence. I commend the Rockdale County Board of Education for their unwavering support of this initiative to bring a viable collegiate presence to the students and citizens of Rockdale County and beyond,” Oatts said.
Oatts previously served as assistant superintendent of student achievement in Fayette County Public Schools and spent the better part of a decade as a Title I elementary school principal, middle school principal and high school principal in Henry County. He is a 2016 graduate of the American Association of School Administrators’ (AASA) inaugural cohort of the National Aspiring Superintendents Academy in Alexandria, Va., a cohort participant in Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2017 National Institute for Urban School Leaders in Cambridge, Mass., and previously served on the Every Student Succeeds Act National Advisory Board. Oatts is also a 2014 graduate of the Georgia School Superintendents Association’s District Office Professional Development Program and a 2019 graduate of GSSA’s 13th Cohort of the Superintendent Professional Development Program. He holds a B.S. degree in communication arts and three graduate degrees in education all from Georgia Southern University. His doctoral degree is in curriculum studies with an emphasis in educational leadership.