During a Monday meeting for the Sampson County Schools Board of Education, the gavel of the chairman seat was passed over to Timothy Register.
The retired educator was selected by his colleagues to lead the board for the 2017-18 school year. Kim Schmidlin, a speech language pathologist, will retain her seat as vice-chairwoman for the same period. The chairman seat was occupied by Telfair Simpson before the re-organization of the group, which occurs in July before the start of school.
“Hopefully, my background and years of experience in education will help me provide good leadership for the board,” Register said. “Also with Mrs. Schmidlin as co-chair, she has some expertise in some areas that I don’t. So I think we’ll make a good team with leading the board.”
Register appreciates the support shown by the board during the decision process.
“Any member of the board has the ability to serve as chairman,” he said. “I appreciate their confidence in me at this particular time as we’re trying to move the school system forward.”
With the 2017-18 school year coming up, Register said the goal of the board is to work in a united effort to provide the best education for students, teachers and district employees. He mentioned how that comes with financial struggles.
“We have faced some challenging times, especially financially,” he said. “I’m proud that the board has worked through a lot of these issues with the leadership of (Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy) and our new finance officer (Stephen Britt). I feel like we’re getting on more solid footing.”
Register added that he’s excited to continue progress in certain areas. As the new chair, he will assist with an accreditation process, through AdvancED, a nonprofit organization that accredits schools throughout the United States and provides educational assistance in the process.
“That will also take some focus through everybody involved and I’m excited about that,” he said about process involving Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. “I have no doubt that we’ll be successful as we go through this review.”
Register stressed that another challenge is finding quality staff members,because of attacks on profession, which may be related to economic and political issues.
“I’m not saying that what we have is not quality, but it’s getting harder and harder to find teachers,” he said.
He later expressed how the district is in good shape with no principal vacancies. For Register, filling the schools with quality staff is a primary goal.
“But it will also be one of the most difficult task as we move forward,” he said. “Not just this year, but we’ll continue to see that as a problem in the future.”
Register continued to stress that the board is united and focused on trying to do what is best for Sampson County students.
“Sometimes boards get a little too district-minded, but I have not seen that from this board,” Register said. “We try to look at every situation from what is best for all the kids in the county. And sometimes that means you may not do what the public wants you to do. You may not do what parents want you to do.”
As elected leaders for the school system, Register alluded to how their job is to make decisions they feel will benefit everyone as a whole.
“I believe that’s what this board is trying to do,” he said.