For the second time in less than six months, a high-ranking Gwinnett County Public Schools official is leaving the district to become the superintendent of another school system, and this time it’s the district’s COVID-19 response point man.
Steve Flynt, GCPS’ Associate Superintendent for School improvement and Operations, has been chosen to be the new superintendent of the Columbia County School District, which is just north of Augusta. He will begin his new job this summer.
Flynt has worked for Gwinnett County Public Schools since 1994.
“It will be an interesting move,” he said. “I’m going to miss everybody here. It was a great run for a long time.”
Flynt isn’t expected to leave Gwinnett County Public Schools right away because current Columbia County School District Superintendent Sandra Carraway is not set to step down until June 30.
Flynt expects to be able to do the early part of the transition while continuing to work for GCPS, but anticipates leaving the district sometime in the spring.
“I’ll probably start the transition some time in March and we’ve got to determine the contract and everything, but probably finalize it sometime in April or May. That way I’ll have a little bit of time to spend with (Carraway) down there and walk through everything with her before she fully leaves ...
“I’ll do a little bit of both (working on the transition from Gwinnett and going down to Columbia County). I can Zoom on some things so I’m going to continue to do all of my work full time here and if I need to take a day or two off from here, I’ll just take a vacation day and work with them.”
Previous media reports from the Augusta area show Flynt had been one of three finalists for the superintendent’s position in Columbia County, along with an associate superintendent and assistant superintendent from the Columbia County school district. The Augusta Chronicle reported Flynt will be paid about $223,000, which is reportedly slightly less than what the retiring Columbia County superintendent is paid.
Since he oversaw operations in GCPS, Flynt’s departure as GCPS works to prepare for eventually vaccinating teachers and other school staff will be felt longterm in the district’s COVID response, particularly as he prepares this spring to take on his new role. He has been involved in overseeing the operational side of the school system’s response, and has been the person giving updates to the Gwinnett school board on how the district has been responding to the pandemic.
Two weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux named Flynt as a member of her COVID advisory task force.
Flynt doesn’t see his departure hampering GCPS’ efforts on the pandemic, however.
“I’ll still be involved in that, although we’ve got a great team,” he said. “I’m the one who talks about it, but we have a really great team that’s actually putting all of the vaccination plans together and working really closely with the health department.
“So, that work is not going to slow down any. It will keep going. Even if I left today, it will keep going very well.”
Flynt’s departure also comes after former GCPS Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instructional Support Jonathan S. Patterson left GCPS last August to become the superintendent of Fayette County Schools.
This was the only superintendent’s job Flynt said he had sought.
He said he felt that, if he was going to pursue a superintendent’s job, this would be the right time, since his daughter will be starting high school in the fall and this will allow her to go through high school in one district rather than moving partway through.
Flynt also said he felt Columbia County — which, with a student population of about 28,000 students, is considerably smaller than Gwinnett County Public Schools — would be a good fit given his experiences in Gwinnett.
“Columbia is an excellent school system and they’ve been very well run and managed, and they’re growing,” he said. “When I saw the growth they have, they’re looking to open five or six schools in their next SPLOST and, of course, I’ve opened, since the time I’ve been at the district office, 38 schools.
“So, that was a pretty good fit being that they’re growing similar — a lot smaller, but very similar — to how Gwinnett was a number of years ago.”
As he looked back on his more than 26 years in Gwinnett County schools, Flynt said he was proud of the relationships he built over the years, as well as how the district as a whole has tried to meet the changing needs of its students.
“Our schools continue to improve every year,” Flynt said. “We’re doing new things and providing new opportunities for students. I mean you can’t just find that just anywhere.”