Wishing Dr. Nichols a happy retirement

Published 2:53 pm Monday, June 24, 2019

In August, the Troup County School System was in flux. Just a few days into the school year, the Troup County School Board had accepted the resignation of Dr. Cole Pugh, and there were more questions than answers as to the direction in which the school system was moving.

The sky was never falling, not with the number of intelligent and skilled administrators in place in TCSS. However, public perception is extremely important, and to the public at large, the school system seemed to be in bad shape. 

It was clear the school system needed an experienced leader who could guide the system while a nationwide search took place.

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Enter Dr. Roy Nichols. Nichols was coaxed out of retirement in August, asked to return to a position he had last held with TCSS in 2004. Nichols provided a calming presence and led the school system through a superintendent search. Once that selection had been made, Nichols agreed to stay on until Dr. Brian Shumate can take over in July, a much longer stint than he originally anticipated.

If he hadn’t agreed to those terms, the school system may have had to act quicker on hiring a new superintendent. Instead, with Nichols in place, they were able to take their time, search far and wide, and hire Shumate, the man they believe was best suited to do the job.

Nichols didn’t plan to be the interim superintendent for almost a full calendar year, but he cared enough about the students and the people working for him to stay on a few extra months. We appreciate that he did so.

Anyone in that position is going to have to make tough decisions, and Nichols ended up involved in some difficult spots during his 11 months in office. He oversaw the creation of the general fund budget, which just passed at last week’s school board meeting, and he was there when the board had to decide — yet again — whether to cough up more money for the gymnasiums at Troup High and LaGrange High.

However, he managed to lead TCSS through each of those decisions, all while keeping his part-time status.

Nichols said he always kept in mind that he was a stop-gap, a temporary fix as the school system worked on finding a permanent replacement. Once Shumate was hired, he kept the incoming superintendent in the loop and allowed him to make the final decision, even if Nichols ever disagreed.

That’s hard for anyone to do, especially someone with decades of superintendent experience. However, that’s exactly what the school system needed — a leader who could step aside and see the bigger picture.

Nichols has repeatedly joked that he would be happy to retire at any moment, and he made it clear from day one that he wasn’t interested in the full-time position. He also made it clear that if the school system found a replacement in a week, he’d be more than happy to be back on the golf course or spending time with his wife and grandchildren. He’ll get to do that now.

There’s no doubt that today the school system is in better shape than it was last August, and a lot of that credit goes to Nichols. We wish him a happy retirement.