A Gibbs move adds up to a loss for local districts

The Athens City Board of Education has a meeting today and members could be deciding whether to make an official job offer to Tom Gibbs, current superintendent of both the Warren and Fort Frye districts.

We hope if the offer comes, Gibbs makes the best decision for himself and his family but we feel a move to Athens would be a loss for Washington County.

Gibbs has spent eight years at the helm of the Warren district and one year sharing duties with Fort Frye. During that time, he’s had to make some tough decisions that weren’t always popular with everyone but we feel he always made those decisions with the right things in mind: the education and services provided to the students, fiscal responsibility and supporting the staff of the district.

There has been some vocal opposition to the administration and board in the Warren district in recent years, as a bond issue to build new schools was placed before voters multiple times.

It’s not illegal, immoral or irresponsible to place a bond issue on the ballot multiple times. If the majority of residents really do oppose the issue, there’s never a chance it will pass.

In fact, if not having the additional funds means decreased or inadequate opportunities for students, it would be irresponsible for school leaders not to try to get the best for them.

The state legislature’s failure to act on an unconstitutional school funding system has tied the hands of district administrators and boards when it comes to obtaining additional income. Property owners have to bear the brunt of that burden, whether it’s fair or not.

Under Gibbs’ leadership, the Warren district eliminated dozens of positions, including at the administration level, cutting to bare bones and even closing schools to avoid having to seek more help from taxpayers.

During his time with Fort Frye, board members there have praised Gibbs, particularly for his work on policy and building and grounds issues.

Washington County districts sometimes struggle with finding (and keeping) the most qualified superintendent candidates. Like other rural areas, the pay offered is not as high.

Gibbs was a high caliber, high quality superintendent that the area has been lucky to have. He’s smart, straightforward, highly efficient and a strong leader.

If he chooses to leave, we hope the next superintendent can fill those shoes.