04/23/06 — Duplin schools get new chief

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Duplin schools get new chief

By Turner Walston
Published in News on April 23, 2006 2:03 AM

Duplin County's new superintendent of schools didn't have to wait long to see how his new county feels about its schools.

Dr. Wiley Doby appeared before the Duplin County Board of Commissioners to talk about the benefits of local funding Monday. There to support him were more than 250 parents, teachers and school administrators.

"I think the county commissioners could see that we have a lot of community support for schools," Doby said this week.

Doby, 57, took the job as new school chief April 1. Born and raised in Winston-Salem, he received a bachelor's degree in health and physical education from Wake Forest University. Doby also earned a master's degree in biology from Appalachian State University. He would later complete his doctorate at Wake Forest.

Doby coached and taught science at the high school level and has been an administrator in elementary, middle and high schools. That perspective helps him better serve the children and schools under his direction.

"I think it's important that I've been able to see where the kids are coming from and where they're going to," he said. "I draw from that experience every day."

Working in education has taken Doby from Forsyth to Burke counties, to Alexander, Rowan and now Duplin.

"I always thought I'd like to live in Eastern North Carolina," Doby said about his newest challenge. "I really felt like we had accomplished most of the things I set out to accomplish in Rowan County."

Doby said he sees challenges in Duplin he has faced before. "Some of the things that need to be done here sort of parallel some of the things I've done in previous positions," he said.

Duplin's budget woes are not unique, Doby said.

"We need a significant increase in our local funding, not to have a Cadillac, but in order to do the kinds of things that we need to do for the education of our children," he said. "That's what we're working toward right now."

Those needs include more classroom space for a school system of 8,900 children.

"If you're going to educate children, you've got to have a place to put them," Doby said.

The children also need a school system that will recruit and retain quality teachers and administrators. "In order to do that, we've got to be competitive with surrounding school systems," Doby said. Being competitive means improving the local supplements to teachers and administrators, and having competitive sign-on bonuses to help with recruiting, he added.

"We do have good people now, and we want to continue to recruit good people," he said. "You're only as good as the people you have."

Doby said he would like to see Duplin students who are interested in teaching return to the county to do so. "But we have to provide that incentive to ensure that they will come back home."

Doby said local funds make up 24.5 percent of the average budget of a North Carolina school system. At Duplin County, that amount stands at 14 percent. "That puts us 98th out of 100 counties," he said. "That's not good enough to do what's right for the children of Duplin County."

The community recognizes the need for improvement, as evidenced by the showing Monday's county commissioner meeting, Doby said.

"I'm very appreciative for the support that the Duplin County schools received on Monday afternoon from Duplin County parents, educators and people in the community," he said. "But we're not through. We've got to push the ball up the court."

Doby said he hopes to see the same kind of support at the county's budget hearing on May 1 at Duplin Commons. In the meantime, he said, "I would encourage every Duplin County resident to contact their county commissioner and let them know of their interest in increased funding."

The keys to improving education in the county are simple, he said.

"It's always communication and cooperation, a team spirit. We're all in it for children," Doby said. "The better education that we can help our children have, the better off the future of Duplin County is going to be. Our mission right now is to make it better for the future."