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School chief in hunt for state honor
Finalist for second time in three years

Forsyth County’s school chief is one of four finalists for the 2014 Georgia Superintendent of the Year.

“It’s a great honor to be nominated,” Buster Evans said. “There are 180 superintendents and there are a lot of wonderful, wonderful people serving as superintendents across this state.”

“This really reflects positively on the work that takes place in our schools. Our folks here just do a wonderful, wonderful job.”

Evans is up against Michele Taylor from Calhoun City Schools, Phillip Lanoue from the Clarke County School District and Matt Arthur from Rabun County Schools. 

The winner, who will be announced in December, will represent the state at the American Association of School Administrators' Superintendent of the Year program.

The Forsyth County Board of Education nominated Evans, who has led the system since 2008, for the distinction. He was also a finalist for the 2012 title.

“There’s nobody more deserving than him,” said Chairwoman Darla Light. “He has led our district, while the economy has been down and he’s done a tremendous job keeping us on the cutting edge and at the top of all the school systems.

“He has a tough job and nobody does it better.”

Evans oversees a school system with about 40,500 students and 4,200 employees. It’s the fastest-growing district in the state and third fastest in the nation.

He credits his administration and staff with managing growth and working both to maintain and improve the system’s quality.

“This really represents the work that takes place throughout our district by the people who teach our kids and leader our schools,” he said. “I just get to be able to somehow or another represent them. It’s just an honor.”

Along with his administrative team, Evans has implemented many programs to help reduce expenditures, maintain a low millage rate and improve the quality of education.

During his tenure, the district has entered an Investing in Education Excellence, or IE2, program with the state that allows it more flexibility from mandates in exchanged for increased accountability.

He also helped create the R4 Data Dashboard, a communications tool that offers information including demographics, test scores and finances.

Technology has also been a priority for Evans, who influenced initiatives such as BYOT, or Bring Your Own Technology. The effort encourages students to bring tablets, laptops and smart phones to class for lesson plans without the system having to provide the technology.

The system also secured a federal grant to develop a personal learning system, further opening the lines of communication between teachers and parents and helping organize grades and information.

The iAchieve Virtual Academy also began under Evans’ leadership. The online school is open to students in sixth through 12thgrades, allowing them to take classes to catch up on credits or get ahead.

“I can’t say enough about Buster,” Light said. “He’s just wonderful and very deserving. He has taken the resources that we have and put them to great use.

“He’s a tremendous leader and he’s exemplary. He’s an example for all superintendents to strive to be.”