Cumberland gains a valuable asset in Locklear

It’s a real shame that Clinton City Schools superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount and the Board of Education waited too late to see what a valuable asset the school system had in Clyde Locklear.

Because of that foot dragging, Cumberland County will now reap the benefits of the finance director’s stellar career here in Clinton, and our school board will have to look for someone to fill the enormous shoes left by a man who dedicated his adult life to working for them and the thousands of students who have been a part of the school system.

Monday night, the community, the school board and the administration bid farewell to Locklear, celebrating his tenure with the system and offering thanks for his dedication during a reception held in his honor. That was a fitting tribute to a man who, for 27 years, has kept Clinton City Schools at the forefront of his thoughts.

About two weeks ago, Blount and the board made a last-ditch attempt to keep Locklear, considering giving him a financial bone that eventually failed due to lack of board support. Blount had hoped he could entice him to stay, but if we were Locklear, even if the offer had hit the table, we would have declined. After all, it was just over a year ago when the superintendent, with the board’s blessing, stripped Locklear of his assistant superintendent’s title, reduced his pay and, we’ve no doubt, left him feeling under-appreciated for the many years of hard work and loyalty he had so readily given.

It’s understandable that Locklear would want to move onward and upward, away from people who, by virtue of their actions, didn’t appreciate him, his service or his skills. And while he’s far too much a gentleman to ever say it, the school board and administration waited far too late to recognize what an asset he was. In fact, their eyes were only truly opened to what they were losing when another school system recognized his value and decided to scoop him up.

The old saying has never been truer — Clinton’s loss is Cumberland’s gain. What’s more, Clinton’s loss is Locklear’s gain too. He is going to a system that recognizes his worth. And that’s a fitting tribute to the man Locklear is, and the kind of employee he has always been.

Even Blount, who, in fairness, fought hard to keep Locklear in the ninth hour, has acknowledged the valuable asset the school system had in its finance director, saying in a Sept. 10 article in The Sampson Independent, “…Clyde has provided a wealth of expertise and knowledge to our system. He has been an intricate part of the Clinton City Schools team.”

School board member and once chairman E.R. Mason has touted Locklear’s value for years, and has always supported him, even when fellow board members did not.

Mason said recently that Clinton City Schools was losing a valuable asset, and while he wished Locklear well in his new job, he was saddened to see him go.

“Mr. Locklear has been a driving force in Clinton City Schools,” Mason said in comments he delivered to the Independent last week.” Praising him for all the work Locklear did on assisting in getting the new Clinton High School built, Mason noted, “His enthusiasm, his informativeness and his genuine concern for getting that school built was exemplary. He has always provided outstanding service to our school system, our board and our students.”

We agree with Mason. Locklear was a true asset, a team player, a huge supporter and Clinton through and through.

Our hat is off to him for a job well done, and our best wishes go with him now as he embarks on a new adventure. We hope he finds great success, success he deserves and success he has earned.