Fred Butcher earned his retirement

Published 6:00 am Saturday, June 10, 2023

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One of the most admirable careers a person can have is an educator.

The same is true of the school superintendent, who, instead of being tasked with overseeing a classroom of 20-plus students, handles the issues of hundreds of students as well as teachers, principals and parents.

Whenever there is an issue, the buck stops with them. The next step is the school board.

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It can be a thankless job.

Students may have improved their test scores, but if they still fall below the state average, the superintendent will face public scrutiny — not the students’ teachers, their parents or the students themselves who are responsible. The superintendent is blamed for the performance of the entire school system.

If there is a threat to safety, such as when an angry student or parent calls and makes an empty threat, the superintendent has to make the right call to lockdown the schools. He takes the fall for missed instructional time as well as faces the wrath of parents who also want to protect their children.

Fred Butcher has been that fall guy for Natchez Adams School District for the last seven years.

He came out of retirement to take the Natchez Adams School District superintendent’s job during a controversial time, just after the termination of the previous superintendent when claims of racial discrimination and civil rights violations were fired at both the superintendent and the school board from all sides.

Butcher, a Clayton, Louisiana, native, taught science and served as principal of Ferriday High School for 24 years. He later served as Natchez High School athletic director from 2008 to 2013 and then NHS principal through May 2014.

Butcher said Monday that when he was hired as interim superintendent, he was under the impression it would only be temporary to see the students through graduation.

Seven graduation days later, he continues to lead the district with perseverance through times of heated racial conflicts, lawsuits and a worldwide pandemic.

While we do not always agree with the school district’s methods, there is the glaring truth that under Fred Butcher’s leadership, great things have happened at NASD.

The announcement that the school district’s accountability rating issued by the Mississippi Department of Education improved D to a B came like the dawn after a long night.

In addition to improving state scores, the district erected a new and safer high school that the community can be proud of. Whether or not you have children who attend NASD schools, the performance of those schools impacts the entirety of Natchez and Adams County.

It determines whether families, corporations and industries will want to move here to live, work and play.

We look forward to the continued success of NASD under the leadership of Interim Superintendent Zandra McDonald-Green, who is as equally creditable for the previous success as Butcher and everyone else working under their leadership.

To Mr. Butcher, we say congratulations on your retirement after 53 years in an unimaginably difficult position. You have earned your rest.