After seven years as superintendent of the Forsyth County school system, Buster Evans is saying goodbye.
“It’s been a very emotional 24 hours,” Evans said Friday as he announced his retirement. “I’m going to miss it, but I feel like what we’ve done here will have lasting impact ... I have been so blessed.”
During an executive session Thursday night, Evans notified the Board of Education that he plans to retire July 1, following his 30-year career in public education.
Board member Ann Crow, who has worked with Evans since he came to Forsyth in 2007 from Bleckley County Schools, southeast of Macon, said she would miss him.
“It’s been an honor to work with him over the last seven years and to see all the changes that he’s carried us through,” she said. “He certainly put us in the position to be one of the best school districts in the country.”
The school board will be meeting next week to set a timetable for finding Evans’ successor. Darla Light, who chairs the board, said officials don’t want to rush.
“I want us to take our time and really look at all of the people applying, all the candidates and be sure that we get the right person,” she said.
Light said the Georgia School Boards Association, which has a superintendent search procedure, can help facilitate the search. The community will also play a big role, offering input into “characteristics and traits we need to be looking for.”
Evans said he wasn’t planning to retire just yet, but things lined up just right for him to continue working on learning and career development opportunities for adults.
“I’m a person that believes there are certain things that happen in life because God has a way of helping you realize, but also giving you opportunities and showing you things at the right place at the right time,” he said.
“When coming close to retirement, a person always starts thinking about what am I going to do next and what can I do that will hopefully make a difference?”
Since becoming superintendent, Evans has implemented cost-saving measures to meet the needs of the fast-growing district, which adds about 1,700 students per year.
He has helped implement the district’s Investing in Education Excellence contract with the state, allowing more flexibility from mandates in exchange for increased accountability. And during his tenure, the county’s CRCT, ACT and SAT scores improved, as did the high school graduation rate.
Evans has also embraced technology, bringing many new programs, like BYOT, or Bring Your Own Technology to schools to allow students to use their devices for learning in the classroom.
He was also instrumental in obtaining federal grants to develop and implement the its Learning personalized learning system that lets students and parents access scores, tests and other information online.
Evans also has worked on behalf of students and teachers at the state level, helping develop state initiatives to improve education in Georgia. He also represents Forsyth as a trustee and chairman of the Teacher’s Retirement Service of Georgia, a position he has held since 2006.
In addition, he serves on the Governor’s Education Advisory Board, Digital Learning Task Force, Superintendents Education Policy Advisory Group at the University of Georgia and the Georgia Education Solutions Group.
“It’s going to be very hard to replace Buster,” Light said. “But he has done so much and he has built such a great school system and created such a feeling of success and he has put so many good people in place that we’re going to be fine.”
Evans will help with the transition process for as long as the school system needs. “I will continue to be involved,” he said. “To whatever extent I could be of service, I’ll be of service.
“When you work with people, when you sweat with people, you experience their heartaches … I will have friends here for the rest of my life.”