DeKalb County School Board member Mark Richards announced Tuesday that he will not seek a fourth term in the 2020 election.
Richards said he hopes he has left a good impression in his 18 years of service on the school board.
“After thinking about it for several months, I have decided not to seek a fourth term on the DeKalb County School Board,” Richards said. “I hope that I have done a good job. I feel good about the direction we are heading. After 18 years, that’s a long time for an elected official, and I feel like it is time to move on.”
During his time on the school board, Richards served under three superintendents. Currently, he is serving under DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Jason Barnett. Richards said, because of the leadership he feels confident in the course of the school board.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” Richards said. “We’ve got a good school board and Dr. Barnett has done an amazing job. It’s sad. I am going to miss it. I have gained a lot of friendship through the schools.
“It is sad, but I think it is something that needs to be done. Working with Dr. Barnett over the last two years makes it easier for me to make this decision because I feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”
Richards said the most rewarding part of serving on the school board is seeing the students’ success.
“The most rewarding part is our goal, which is doing what’s best for the students and seeing what they’ve achieved,” he said. “The direction that they are heading in now, that’s the goal and I believe we are heading in that direction.”
Richards said another rewarding part of serving on the school board is being voted in to serve the kids, not the party.
“When you vote, you don’t just vote for your schools,” Richards said. “Of course, I’m a little partial to Geraldine and Fyffe, but you vote to improve the whole county. That’ something I’m proud of; politics has never been an issue on our board at all and it shouldn’t be. And that’s something I’m proud of.”
Barnett said Richards was a pleasure to work with. He said an element of friendship formed between board members.
“Mr. Richards has been awesome to work with,” Barnett said. “When you work so closely with somebody, you hear the same concerns and the same things, and you feel like you’re fighting for the same cause and for the same good. You work together but you also build friendships, and that’s important.”
Barnett said Richards is a wealth of knowledge.
“He’s going to be missed,” Barnett said. “Eighteen years is a lot of value, it’s a lot of history and a lot of knowledge. Which ultimately means, when he doesn’t seek re election. He’s the only multi-term board member that we have. All of our other board members have chosen not to run for reelection, or various things have happened. So he is the only one right now that is beyond one term now. Obviously that brings a lot of knowledge and background that is very valuable.”
Barnett said Richards will be missed, but he’s left a legacy for the BOE’s future.
“He’s sorely going to be missed,” Barnett said. “I appreciate what he has done for me, the board, and all the students that have came through. It’s going to be a lasting legacy. You spend 18 years [in that position], there’s a lot of things you’ve done that set the trajectory, not just for today, but you think of all the employees that have been hired over the last 18 years, those people are still going to be teaching for 25 or 30 more years. So you still impact the classroom for a long, long time. That’s a whole generation of educators. When you think about how powerful that is in DeKalb County, that’s a lot.”
Richards said he can leave his seat on the BOE knowing that there is a bright of DeKalb County’s schools is in the hands of trusted board members who support their superintendent.
“It’s tough when you’ve been there for 18 years to just step back but I’m at peace. I’ve done the best that I can do,” Richards said. “We have a good school board and their vision is that we’re all matched with Dr. Barnett and what he wants to do, so I feel like that our future is real bright at DeKalb County Schools.”