My commitment will continue

Published 8:30 am Thursday, September 26, 2019

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Last week, I accepted a position as the incoming Superintendent for Jackson County School District in Jackson County, Mississippi. I will officially begin the job January 1, 2020.  Once this announcement was  made last week, there seemed to be some controversy as to why I was leaving Butler County School System. I seek to simply give my perspective.

No question, the Ad Valorem proposal and campaign was challenging for our community. I anticipated this challenge going into the campaign. However, our school system is one of the lowest locally funded school systems in the state. I still feel strongly that our students deserve local funding at least to that of the state average.

In March, after the Ad Valorem vote was overwhelmingly defeated, the Board of Education did not extend my 3-year contract. While I’m not certain of the connection between the Ad Valorem vote and my contract, it was clearly pointed out to me that this action (or lack of action) was not considered a “non-renew” but rather a “non- extension” of a 3-year contract. To the credit of my relationship with the Board, there were no prolonged hard feelings regarding the contract, and our leadership team moved forward running the school system. However, I did communicate to the Board that I would be looking for a new superintendent position with no guarantee of a contract extension in Butler County beyond June 30, 2021. I applied for the job in Jackson County Mississippi, interviewed, and was offered the position last week.

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As a school superintendent with 15 years of experience, I have pretty thick skin. However, when I hear that someone claims that I am not committed to the children I serve, I take it very personally. Anyone who knows me at all or has spent any time with me knows that I love children because my actions demonstrate such. While I am certainly not perfect professionally or personally, I am committed to children and will do anything I can to help any of them.

I have often been asked why I give my business card to all graduating seniors. Many people believe I am crazy to do such. I do this because love and commitment require more than words, they require actions. I give these students my card because I want them to know that I am, in fact, committed to them even beyond graduation.

To the Butler County Graduating Class of 2020, here is my cell phone number: (989) 233-2490. If I can ever  help you advance in your life with a recommendation or if you are ever in a pinch, call this number. It may not be me who helps you, but I will see to it that someone does.

I will work hard to the end of my contract in Butler County and my love and commitment for our children will not end with my departure.  It will simply be extended from Jackson, Mississippi. Thank you all for the opportunity to serve the county and our children.

Dr. John Strycker is superintendent of the Butler County School System.