Brad Bryant, a former member of the state Board of Education, is replacing outgoing Superintendent Kathy Cox as she leaves to head up a national education nonprofit in Washington, D.C. Bryant will fill in the last six months of her term and plans to run as an independent candidate in the superintendent's race this fall.
He said after he was sworn in that his job will be to make more progress on the work Cox began in improving the state's graduation rate and toughening curricula in each subject.
"I do not see this as coming in and putting out fires Kathy created," said Bryant, who was one of Cox's longtime supporters on the state school board. "I see this as moving in and continuing the work Kathy started."
He said he also wants to reach out to the business and nonprofit community in Georgia to help bring in private money to alleviate some of the pain from $3 billion in state cuts for education over the last two years. Districts are facing thousands of layoffs, teacher furloughs and program cuts.
The state has lifted class size caps through 2013, giving the state's 180 school districts the leeway to decide how large each class should be. Parents have expressed concerns that districts will make classes too large for teachers to be effective, but Bryant said he isn't concerned.
"I trust our local districts enough that I do not think they're going to abuse that," Bryant said.
Bryant, an attorney, was a longtime member of the DeKalb County school board - acting as chairman of the board for seven. He has also been the president of the Georgia School Boards Association and president of the National Association of State Boards of Education.
He joined the state school board in 2003. He also served as a liaison between the state and the troubled Clayton County school board as the district battled loss of accreditation.
"Brad has a wealth of experience as a parent, local school board member and state school board member," said Gov. Sonny Perdue. "He has done the big picture work and, on the other end of the spectrum, he understands what must take place in individual schools across the state to help students be successful."
Cox is leaving to lead the U.S. Education Delivery Institute, a new Washington-based group aimed at helping states in reach "Race for the Top" goals.