With less than a month before Athens voters head to the polls to decide a multimillion-dollar school bond, it appears the district’s chief is on his way out.
Dr. Fred Hayes, who has been the Athens Independent School District superintendent since 2006, has been named the lone finalist for the superintendent’s post at Class 4A Nacogdoches Independent School District. Athens is a Class 3A district.
The Nacogdoches ISD board of trustees voted to name Hayes the lone finalist at a special-called meeting Thursday evening. The board’s decision started a 21-day waiting period during which time the district can’t officially hire Hayes.
However, in a press release sent Friday to the Athens Review, Hayes said he will accept the job if it is, in fact, offered to him after the waiting period.
“After much thought, soul searching and prayerful consideration, Gay Lynn and I have decided to accept the kind and generous offer made by the Nacogdoches school. We will be moving to Nacogdoches this summer, if the Nacogdoches school board continues to seek our services, after the expiration of the mandatory 21-day waiting period for school superintendent’s contracts,” Hayes said in a statement released Friday. At that time, he was out of town at a speaking engagement.
Athens ISD Public Information Officer Robby Robertson said Hayes plans to leave the district in June or July. Hayes will submit his resignation to the board after Nacogdoches officially offers a contract, Robertson said.
In his press release, he stated, “We will be glad to answer any questions or respond to any comments from anyone in either Athens or Nacogdoches.”
“He wants to see the bond through, and he wants to see graduation through,” Robertson said.
Addressing his decision through the press release, Hayes said he and his wife, Gay Lynn — the district’s director of advanced academic services for the early college high school program — love Athens, and have enjoyed their work here. He described the opportunity in Nacogdoches as an honor.
“Nothing can happen until the 21-day waiting process is up. We don’t want to speculate as to what will happen, so we just have to wait until it’s official, and go from there,” AISD Board President Steve McElhaney said. “We as a board will be discussing everything in the next few days, and begin to get a plan together.”
An official with Nacogdoches ISD said their district began the recruiting process in February, and that it set a deadline for applications to be received by March 17. Candidate interviews were performed in March, and into this month.
Nacogdoches School Board President Zeke Martinez said Hayes was chosen from an “excellent” field of candidates.
“ ... Over 50 people applied, and Dr. Hayes rose to the top,” Martinez said. “We looked for the best fit we could possibly find, and we think he would fit well here. We are pleased to name Dr. Fred Hayes as our lone finalist for superintendent. With his record of success, we are confident that his vision, skills and past experience will meet the needs of our district and our community.”
During Hayes, tenure as superintendent, Athens ISD has maintained an “academically-acceptable” rating by the Texas Education Agency. There are two rankings above academically acceptable — exemplary, the highest rating, and recognized.
Hayes was very involved in the implementation of Pinnacle, which offers high schoolers a chance to get college credit hours. Pinnacle has become a popular program among students and parents.
He has also presided over the district’s ongoing efforts to pass a school bond. Since May, 2008, the district has sent six bond elections to the voters. Only one, in the amount of $3.75 million in November, 2008, has passed. The last bond failure came last November, when voters struck down a $6.5 million bond. Voters will head to the polls to decide the fate of a bond in the same amount on May 14.