Superintendent candidate tells Northside parents he's committed to long stay

Robert Avossa told parents on Wednesday night he plans to end the revolving door on the office of Fulton County school superintendent.

Avossa said he's hoping to "plant roots" and become "part of the community," where he's been asked to become the seventh school superintendent in 14 years.

"What I need from you is a commitment that we can work together to solve problems," Avossa told parents and teachers at a community meet-and-greet session at Centennial High School in Roswell, where he fielded questions about charter schools, the school system's culture and testing.

The Fulton School Board announced last week that it had picked Avossa, the chief strategy and accountability officer for the 135,000-student Charlotte-Mecklenberg, N.C., school district, to replace School Superintendent Cindy Loe. Loe was hired in 2008 after a series of short-term superintendents, but announced early this year that she would retire at the end of the school year to spend more time with family.

Avossa, who won't officially be offered the Fulton job until next week, spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights on a county tour that included stops at six schools and two meet-and-greet sessions, the first at the Southside's Westlake High School.

One of the first questions dealt with a regimen of 52 tests that Avossa helped develop that some parents and teachers have criticized as a waste of time and money. Avossa told the crowd at Centennial that testing has its place, but that the plan inacted in Charlotte was "very aggressive," and likely too fast-paced.

He called the idea of a charter school system, which Fulton is considering, intriguing. He said he'll spent the first 30 to 60 days of his administration getting to know the district and its challenges.

He pointed out that in Charlotte principals participated in an anonymous survey that rated central office staff members on how responsive they were. The results were part of the central office staffer's evaluation, Avossa said.

In Charlotte, he said he developed a metric so that the community could judge where it was getting a good return on its investment in each school.

"You've got to find a perfect balance between pressure and support," Avossa said.