Butcher takes helm of NASD

Published 12:11 am Thursday, April 14, 2016

NATCHEZ — Natchez-Adams School District Interim Superintendent Fred T. Butcher began late last week and has already begun to prioritize two goals: improving morale and recruitment.

Butcher said he wanted to take a couple of weeks to outline up to three tiers of different district goals, but it didn’t take him long to notice that morale was low in the school buildings.

“I would not want to place the blame on any one thing,” he said. “Whenever there is a transition period, morale is always going to go down.”

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Butcher said morale had been impacted by the amount of teachers leaving the district, as well as others worried about job security. The district will have to fill 30 to 40 teacher vacancies before next year.

“We have been losing good people, period,” Butcher said. “There are fewer people going to college to be teachers. And some that do get burnt out within two years and move to other professions.

“We have to put something in place to give new teachers security.”

Natchez-Adams School Board of Trustees President Amos James Jr. said Butcher is doing a good job so far.

“I think he has come in with the right mindset,” he said. “He is very focused, and he is going to be very fair in his decision-making process.”

After eight to 10 days of listening, Butcher said he hopes to be able to outline other goals for the district. The administrator said he’d be listening to the board, administration, teachers, parents and students.

“I’m just trying to absorb as much as I can,” he said. “I think that it’s important that the first thing you do before you act is listen.”

Butcher said the board had yet to give him any direction on how long he might be tapped to be interim superintendent.

When he got the call, Butcher said retirement had not been sitting well with him. Being retired had been so tough that he took a job selling cars for a local car dealership, where he no longer works.

Butcher also serves on the Concordia Parish School Board as well as the Riverland Hospital Board.

“I was not so much ready for retirement,” he said. “I love the school business. I enjoy the challenge of working with students, faculty and parents; so that we can see students grow successfully.

“I want to thank the Natchez-Adams School Board for giving me this opportunity to serve the district again.”

Butcher has spent much of his career — more than 20 years — as the Ferriday High School Principal. Before that, he briefly served as a biology instructor in the parish and was assistant principal of Ferriday Junior High.

He served as athletic director for Natchez High School for nine years and was principal for a year there.

Butcher also has served previously in central office positions, having been interim superintendent in the parish and also its academic director.

“I think this calling will be more of a challenge,” Butcher said, comparing being interim superintendent of the Natchez district compared to the parish. “In Concordia Parish, I had been the No. 2 person, so I knew the district and its challenges more.”

Butcher said he was up for the task of leading the district.

“I had three options when I got this call,” he said. “I could not take the job and that would be it. I could simply try and hold it together for the next person.

“I have elected to work to make a difference. When the next person comes in, perhaps some of these problems will be solved.”

At the conclusion of today’s board meeting, the public will have time to meet Butcher.

His contract is also expected to be approved at the meeting.

The regularly scheduled meeting begins at 4 p.m. in the Braden Administrative Building.

James said from what he’s been hearing, Butcher’s presence in the district is helping morale.

“Everyone respects him,” he said. “I think morale has started to pick up already, but yeah, morale is something he is going to be working on.”