Hines steps down

Published 7:35 pm Friday, December 2, 2011

Leaving in the middle of the school year was not in Escambia County Superintendent Billy Hines’ plan.

But a Nov. 30 deadline forced some educators to make the tough decision to retire in order to avoid increased premium costs in the Public Education Employee’s Health Insurance Plan. Rates for retirees will increase significantly until they reach age 65 and become eligible for Medicare according to the legislative act passed this summer.


Hines, who has enjoyed a 33-year career in education, said the decision was easier for him than others faced with the decision to retire.

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“I had planned to retire at the end of this school year, but under the circumstances it was just a good financially sound decision for me to retire now,” Hines said. “I would never have wanted to leave in mid-stream. This isn’t when I would have chosen to leave. It’s just necessary.”

Hines said he will take some time off, but plans to continue working in the field of education as well.

“I have been offered some opportunities to work with other entities,” Hines said. “I plan to stay involved in the county for now as an unpaid consultant if I’m needed.”

Hines, who has held the position as superintendent for six years, said he feels confident he is leaving the system in good hands.

Randall Little, who currently serves as assistant superintendent for the county’s school system, will serve as interim superintendent pending advertisement for the position and selection of Hines’ replacement in 90 days. Mary Bess Powell also serves as an assistant superintendent in the Escambia County School System as well.

“Mr. Little and Mrs. Powell can run this system and do a good job,” Hines said. “They are embedded in this county and they are well-qualified to take care of our schools. Because of their knowledge and abilities, this wasn’t a hard decision for me to leave now.”
Hines said there are things about the job and responsibility of his position that he will miss, and of course, there are some things he won’t miss.

“In the superintendent’s position I have made a lot of friends and have developed close ties with a lot of people, and that’s the thing I’ll miss the most,” Hines said. “But, on the other hand, I’m looking forward to not having to answer the phone every five minutes and wonder where a bus is headed if I see one on the road.”

Hines credits the success he has seen in his time at the helm of the system to the people who work within the system.

“The successes we’ve seen and the progress we’ve made wasn’t just me,” Hines said. “We are very lucky to have people working for this system who bought in to the ideas that were needed to make it through some tough times. This county runs easier and works so well because the public supports education. That’s evident with the passing of the school tax by the voters a couple of years ago. Without the people who support education and work hard every day to make it run, this county wouldn’t be as lucky as we are.”

Hines said he may be retiring but his time in education is certainly not over — especially for the education employees and students in the system.

“This is my county,” Hines said. “I will always bee concerned about what’s going on in education and I’ll always be thinking about what I can do to make this better. I won’t be gone. I’ll be right here behind our teachers, employees and students every day.”