• 57°

Cathy Pitts announces plan to retire

LaFAYETTE — The Chambers County School District’s chief financial officer has announced her retirement. Cathy Pitts will remain with the school system for the remainder of the current calendar year, leaving on December 31, 2018.

“How long have you been here?” Board President Bill Martin asked her when Dr. Kelli Hodge brought up the matter at Wednesday’s monthly board meeting.

When Pitts told him 25 years, Martin was surprised.

“It seems like it was just yesterday,” he said.

Pitts succeeded the retiring Rena Henderson on April 1, 1993. She recalls some tough budgetary times to deal with. The school system had gone though some consolidation in 1991, closing high schools in Milltown and Five Points and an elementary school in River View.

“We were struggling to build a reserve, and the City of Valley was in federal court attempting to start a city school system,” she said.

By state law, any school system must have a reserve that’s equal to one month’s operating balance. Chambers County is well above the mark now with a monthly net fund equity figure hovering around six million dollars.

“Cathy, you know we are going to miss you,” Martin said.

“I will miss you all, too,” Pitts replied.

“It’s going to be sad to see you leave,” Board Member Chris Busby said.

Dr. Hodge said that she would not be allowed to make a recommendation on a successor. That’s entirely up to the board.

“We can post the position, get applicants and interview them this summer,” she said. “We could hire early and give the new person several weeks on the job with Cathy before she retires at the end of the year.”

The board will likely form a committee to go through the hiring process. The State Department of Education can send in someone to offer assistance, and Pitts can offer advice as well.

Her leaving at the end of a calendar year will be beneficial. It would be a lot more difficult if she left at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, when there’s lots of budgeting going on.