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Douthitt urges increase in financial, parental support for schools

As a basketball referee, Darren Douthitt said he has assisted in hundreds of games where this question is always posed to the coaches and captains: “Are you properly prepared?”

As the new superintendent for the Butler County School System, he thinks it is just as valid a question for education in Butler County.

“I want to thank you for voting the renewal tax through . . . but we have to do more for our schools,” he said at Monday’s Greenville Lions meeting.

“We have a 12 mil ad valorem tax in place here in Butler County. The state average is 30 mil. I would have to say we aren’t doing enough,” Douthitt said.

“We need to increase financial support for the schools. We have to keep the focus on all things essential for the successful operation of our schools.”

Douthitt brought up the subject of his salary of $130,000 per year, saying “things had to be taken into account,” such as the loss of his wife’s salary upon the family moving to Greenville, and the subsequent need to make up the difference to meet the financial needs of his family of three.

“The salary approved is one I thought was appropriate for the job in hand . . . the students will be my primary focus 24-7, I assure you,” he said. “I spent part of Saturday standing out in the sun in the 90 to 100-degree heat in order to be with the children of Butler County, when I should probably have been with my own family. But it’s things like that which motivate to work harder for them.”

Douthitt promised not to allow “petty politics, lies and rumors” affect his job performance.

The new superintendent preached the importance of parental responsibility and involvement as “essential and necessary” for improvement in the county’s schools.

“Many parents have been taking their hands off their children when they are middle school age. They need to put the same efforts in being hands-on with their children right through senior high as they do in elementary school,” Douthitt said.

Noting the high attendance at the last few board meetings, the superintendent said, barring some controversy, he feared that number would dwindle as his “honeymoon period” ended.

“All board meetings should be wall-to-wall . . . don’t wait until the bottom falls out,” he said.

Douthitt also said improving Internet access for communities like Georgiana would be a top priority for his administration.

“We have to provide all our students with a 21st century education to get them in a position to compete with China, India – worldwide.”