Retiring school leader looks forward to free time

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2008

FRANKLIN—A visit to the ophthalmologist proved to be an eye opener for Superintendent of Franklin City Public Schools Bill Pruett, who resigned last week.

It was a decision that he began thinking about in March after filling out some paperwork that included a request to list hobbies.

&uot;It occurred to me that I don’t have time for any hobbies,&uot; he said.

He said that if he was going to make time for hobbies, now was the time to do it while the school board had three months to look for his replacement. Pruett announced that his resignation will take effect by the first of September.

&uot;I really didn’t think I served the division well,&uot; Pruett said. &uot;They need someone dynamic who will make long-term plans with the board.&uot;

In August 2006, when he took the job as interim superintendent after Dr. Alline Riddick was reassigned within the school division, he said he would be conducting day-to-day operations of the division and working with the school board—not making any &uot;earthquake type of changes, other than having the school division administered well.&uot;

Pruett was then given a two-year contract that would have expired at the end of the 2009 school year.

&uot;I told the board I would help them,&uot; he said in regard to the search for a new full-time superintendent.

After 30 years serving as principal of Hunterdale Elementary School, Pruett said that the one thing he missed while serving as superintendent was getting to know the students as well as he did while a principal.

However, in 2006, he had said that the opportunity to come back to Franklin was too appealing.

&uot;It’s a beautiful place to drive into work in the morning,&uot; he said this week. &uot;The city manager, the mayor, and everyone in the school system have been great (to work with).&uot;

Pruett came to the system after serving as legislative liaison with the Virginia General Assembly and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents from around 2000 to 2006.

&uot;(I’m still serving) three days plus a week,&uot; he said of the superintendents’ group, also noting that he works with various colleges to help develop courses.

Pruett said that one of the challenges facing the incoming superintendent will be a continuing decline in enrollment.

&uot;I think fewer children, because fewer families are moving into smaller cities like this,&uot; he said. &uot;I think it started when the mill (was merged.)

&uot;(The system) needs to build test scores and get all accreditation. There is the continuing need to find and retain good, quality teachers and a continued need to accommodate the finances available to the city.&uot;

Pruett will stay with the school system through the end of August or first of September, and said if the opportunity arises, afterward, he may be doing some fishing.

&uot;I’ll have time to do some things,&uot; he said.

&uot;If our scarcest commodity were our means of trade, we’d trade time together,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s one thing we never have enough of.&uot;