School board introduces new superintendent|Phipps prepared to lead Beaufort County School System

Published 9:22 am Friday, December 11, 2009

Community Editor

The Beaufort County Board of Education named its newest superintendent at a special called meeting Wednesday night at the Central Services Building on U.S. Highway 264 east of Washington.
Dr. Donald “Don” Phipps was introduced to the public and media shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday by Board Chairman Robert Belcher. The introduction came after an unanimous vote by the Board to approve a three-year contract for Phipps, who will officially take over as superintendent on Jan. 11, 2010. Phipps’ contract expires on June 30, 2013, shortly after the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
Phipps said he doesn’t expect to make a lot of changes when he takes over the school system, initially.
“I believe in working together and making it the strongest school system it can be,” he said.
Prior to his hire Wednesday night, Phipps served as executive director of student services for Cumberland County Schools, which includes the Fayetteville metropolitan area.
Phipps acknowledged that the transition from such a large school system to Beaufort County Schools would take some adjustments, but said he’s up to the challenge.
“With a smaller system means greater responsibility,” he said. “But I think I can handle it.”
Cumberland County Schools includes some 34,000 students in 84 schools, Phipps said.
Phipps has also worked as a school principal, assistant principal, school psychologist and university professor.
Through his experiences in the field, he said that his overriding goal for students in the Beaufort County School System is to make sure they are “geared up to be gainfully employed.”
“I don’t want students to lack skills,” he said.
Phipps said he is aware of the strained relationship between the Board and the Beaufort County Commissioners. He added that he felt comfortable with the Board during the interview process for the position.
“It felt like I was in my living room talking to friends,” he said.
Phipps said he was also attracted to the area, and will begin looking for a house for his fiance and four children over the weekend. Phipps and his wife-to-be, Nancy, are engaged to be married Dec. 19.