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Dawson-Bryant superintendent takes new post

When the Dawson-Bryant Board of Education meets in special session this evening, the sole item on the agenda will be finding a replacement for the district’s superintendent, Dr. James Payne.

Payne is leaving that post to become the superintendent of the Lawrence County Educational Service Center upon the retirement of Harold Shafer. Shafter is leaving the county post after 15 years of service.

“I will not be able to replace Mr. Shafer,” Payne said. “But I will do the best job I can when I get there.”

Shafer, 62, said he is retiring because of health issues. He has been county school superintendent since 1993 and has given 42 years of service to education in Lawrence County. He said he is pleased with the progress made to put Lawrence County kids in new classrooms and to improve educational standards.

“All the districts will have new buildings by the time the construction is completed,” Shafer said. “But most importantly, all of the districts were “efficient” this year on the state report cards. A lot of things bring back memories. We have done a lot of things.”

Shafer said he will miss his staff at the service center and all the educators he has dealt with over the years. He said he wished Payne the best of luck in this new job.

Payne began his tenure at Dawson-Bryant in 1999 after serving six years as superintendent of the Ironton City Schools. His career in education spans more than three decades.

Payne said he is most proud of the improvements made in education and pointed out that the district has routinely gotten high ratings for its academic performance.

He pointed out that the elementary school was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2004, one of only 250 buildings across the nation to get the honor. He is also pleased he is leaving the district with new or renovated buildings, a project that cost nearly $20 million, but didn’t cost the Coal Grove area taxpayers any additional money.

He gave credit the school board and the staff for the joint effort to make those good things happen.

Payne said he looks forward to working with the county’s school districts.