Fayette Supt. John DeCotis is calling it quits

Wed, 02/10/2010 - 12:13pm
By: Cal Beverly

Fayette County School System Superintendent John DeCotis is stepping down as head of the 22,000 student system when his contract expires June 30 this year, The Citizen has learned.

He will ask the Board of Education not to renew his three-year contract, The Citizen has learned from multiple sources. The current contract began July 1, 2007; his base salary at that time was $180,000.

DeCotis has over 31 years of experience with the school system as a teacher and administrator. He was the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Fayette County Schools prior to becoming the county’s superintendent in 1999.

He has also served the school system as executive director of K-12 curriculum and instruction and director of elementary education.

The board met Tuesday night, but no announcement was made about DeCotis’s plans to step down at that time.

The system has two administrators just below DeCotis in the management team: Deputy Superintendent Fred Oliver and Assistant Superintendent for Operations Sam Sweat.

A press release this afternoon from the Fayette County School System said:

Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John DeCotis has announced his retirement from the school system effective July 1, 2010. His current contract will expire on June 30, 2010.
DeCotis has served the school system for 31 years as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and county-level administrator.
During his tenure, the Fayette County Public School System has won numerous student, staff and school awards. The school system has also been recognized at the state and national level for its academic achievements.

“I want to thank our current and previous school boards for their support, commitment and vision. I also want to thank our students, staff, parents and community members for their support and efforts over the years,” says DeCotis.

DeCotis has been recognized locally and nationally as an outstanding leader and positive role model for other educators and administrators. His most recent awards and honors include: winner of the 2009 Outstanding Educator Award from the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL); inclusion in the 2008-2009 Honors Edition of the Cambridge Who’s Who Registry; a finalist for the Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA) 2009 Georgia School Superintendent of the Year award; recipient of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce 2008 Dreambuilder Award for community service; winner of the 2007 GSSA President’s Award for excellence in leadership, community involvement and professional accomplishment; and recipient of the NAACP Community Service Award.

In addition to serving the Fayette County Public School System, DeCotis has been actively involved in many community service activities. Over the years he has served as chairman of the YMCA Board of Directors; member of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Advisory Board; member of the Fayette County Safe Kids Coalition; chairman of the YMCA Aquatics Facility Development Committee; youth leadership chairman of Toastmasters International; member of the Southern Federal Credit Union Board of Directors; member of the Fayette County Board of Health Board of Directors; member of the Fayette Youth Protection Home Board; and a member of the Knights of Columbus, the press release said.

Further details later.

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Submitted by kayfay on Thu, 02/11/2010 - 11:57am.

Thank you for your service, but the headline: Students up 16%, school budget up 68% - clearly states the problem. The replacement needs to be someone from outside our system/state. The person will need to do what is best for the students and teachers; someone willing to make the fiscal decisions that have the least impact on the classroom. The ability to teach does not always translate to leadership or the ability to balance the budget. I fear Fayette will do what they always do and pull from within. This would be a huge mistake and will lead to more of the same. If we are not careful, IE2 is coming our way and at that point local control will be a non-issue.

Submitted by loanarranger707 on Thu, 02/11/2010 - 8:46am.

What will be the amount of his pension? When will it start?

It starts right away. It lasts for life. It seems from the Georgia Teacher Retirement System website that his pension will be about $133,500 a year ($11,125 a month).

How was that calculated? After 30 years, any teacher can retire. The benefit is 2 percent per year times the number of years, and he had 31 years, so we’re at 62 percent. The percentage is applied to the average of his highest two years of earnings, and for the last two years that is $215,400 a year.

Feel free to correct anything that’s wrong in there. I am not a teacher. Teachers complain about salaries but not about the pensions.

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Thu, 02/11/2010 - 9:06am.

The numbers sound reasonable so I will take it as the true. He earned himself a nice pension with the rules and laws that have been set up. I thank him for his 31 years of service to this county. I do not begrudge the money--he did not set up the rules, he is merely playing by them

Gene61's picture
Submitted by Gene61 on Thu, 02/11/2010 - 2:03am.

Looks like he running away before the ship hits bottom. Given the fact our schools are being over run with Clayton County students ( rejects ), guess he saw the writing on the wall.

I for one will not miss him.

Submitted by batman7732 on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 2:22pm.

With the Hooligans pouring over the borders, who can blame him ? Thanks Clayton and Fulton for running off another great citizen.

WakeUp's picture
Submitted by WakeUp on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 1:44pm.

Dr. DeCostUsALot! And good riddance.

Submitted by sevets2000 on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 2:08pm.

WakeUp, your comment is not only juvenile, but sadly misinformed. John Decotis is one of the very best and most capable people I ever encountered during my career. His story of coming to Fayetteville all those years ago, getting off the bus and walking to the BOE offices seeking a job and rising all the way to Superintendent is one of the great stories that I know. I, for one, will always be grateful to John Decotis for his service to our community. Thank you, John, and best wishes for a great retirement.

WakeUp's picture
Submitted by WakeUp on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 3:43pm.

So, you don't agree with me and therefore I am juvenile. Typical, create a negative label for anyone who does not agree with you. Poor boy gets off the bus and leads the school system. How Hallmark. What about the over staffed administration (how many assistants?) and what has he done to keep out of county residents out of the system. Start with these topics and tell me how he has served me as a taxpayer - his employer.....

WakeUp's picture
Submitted by WakeUp on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 3:43pm.


MajorMike's picture
Submitted by MajorMike on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 3:36pm.


Well said and so true. I for one, feel that Dr. D finally had enough of "back seat" Smola and her merry band of *** self edited ***. Fayette County will be hard pressed to find a replacement of the same calibre.

yellowjax1212's picture
Submitted by yellowjax1212 on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 1:13pm.

I guess it was easy to collect the very generous salary when things were good but when the Going Got Tough, The Tough Got Going....

Submitted by sevets2000 on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 2:14pm.

Yellowjax1212, Dr. Decotis is eligible for retirement under the State's Teacher Retirement System - he's still young and can enjoy life for a while, why make such an ignorant comment. I wish him well and hope Fayette can get someone with just a small fraction of his ability. A good school superintendent is almost impossible to find in today's market; I'm afraid we are about to find out.

yellowjax1212's picture
Submitted by yellowjax1212 on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 3:03pm.

Wow. Somebody touched a nerve.
I'm guessing you are not one of the hundreds of teachers forced to take extra furlough days and see the cost of their benefit package skyrocket, supplies dry up, assistants and para-pros dropped, etc.
I can appreciated your respect for Mr. Decotis and I can respect the job he has done for the county. Fayette County schools have built a great reputations under his tenure.
My point, dear sir or madame was that leadership in the tough times is the sign of a truly great leader AND truly great leaders lead their troops through those tough times.
Taking the money and the accolades when things are good is easy. Show me what you got when things aren't quite so rosy.

PhilPTC's picture
Submitted by PhilPTC on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 1:35pm.

Well, can't imagine that job is an enjoyable one these days. If someone who's worked their way up in education for 31 years walks away, who the heck would want to fill their shoes? Another consideration, is that it's retirement time, which would mean smart timing on his part.

Submitted by jevank on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 12:44pm.

Interesting timing. Just a few days ago, Sonny Perdue came up with a proposal to appoint school superintendents instead of them being elected.

Submitted by sevets2000 on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 2:00pm.

Jevank, the Governor's proposal of this week has nothing to do with local school superintendents; they have been appointed for 12 or 13 years - the Governor's proposal this week would affect several State Constitutional officers including the State Superintendent of Schools.

Submitted by jevank on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 2:45pm.

My mistake. Thanks for clarifying.

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