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School system hires new superintendent
Bearden will start in September

CUMMING -- Jeff Bearden was introduced Wednesday as the new superintendent of the Forsyth County school system.

During a meeting Wednesday, the Board of Education approved a three-year contract with Bearden, who is leaving his post as superintendent of Rome City Schools.

His tenure will begin Sept. 2, about a month after the 2014-15 school year begins, and will run through July 30 2017.

“We’re looking for it to be a very smooth transition,” said Darla Light, who chairs the school board. “We are very excited, and I do believe he is going to step in and work to take us to the next level.”

The board’s 4-0 decision, with member Tom Cleveland absent, capped a months-long search to replace Buster Evans, who is leaving Forsyth next week to become assistant commissioner of education with the Department of Corrections.

Evans, who has led the school district for nearly seven years, announced his plans in February. Bearden was announced as the sole finalist earlier this month.

Bearden will remain in his Rome post through the end of August, with former Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter serving as Forsyth school chief in the interim.

Light said Porter will help launch the school year in August and will work with Bearden to introduce him to the Forsyth community, where Porter has lived for about 30 years.

Prior to serving in Rome, Bearden served for two years as superintendent of Fayette County Schools, a system to which Forsyth often is compared.

While the Rome district has about 6,000 students and one high school, Bearden said he’s prepared to take on the challenge of the much larger, rapidly growing Forsyth system. It was the same task Evans faced when he came from the small school system of Bleckley County in middle Georgia.

“Leadership is leadership,” Bearden said. “What it takes to run a good school and a good school system, those ingredients are the same.

“If you get home, school and community working together, that’s where you’ll be at your best—it doesn’t matter the size. You have that here, my responsibility is to make sure that we continue that and that we take all of the things we’re doing really well and try to move forward and try to improve.”

Bearden said he’s been impressed with Forsyth’s success since he came to the system on a technology tour years ago, calling it the premier of school systems not just in Georgia, but across the country. It’s the only district compelling enough to pull him from Rome.

“I was just so impressed,” he said, adding he plans to keep pushing to improve. “It is not my goal to tread water. It is my goal to work within this community, work with parents and staff and students to move the system forward and keep getting better.”