Day approached the Chickamauga school board members about her decision in August. The board released her from the three-year contract.
“I didn’t know when during this year that I would leave, but I did have the system’s best interest at heart,” Day said. “Summer is really one of our busiest times, when closing out one (school) year and beginning another. It is so very busy that I felt if I had left any earlier it would have been a hardship.”
Students returned to classes from summer break on Aug. 6.
“She had been talking about it for several years now,” said Corky Jewell, chairman of the Chickamauga school board. “She is probably one of our longest tenured employees. Most of the employees did not learn of (her decision) until she sent out a farewell email on August 31.”
Day, 56, has served the school system for 34 years and even accumulated more than two years of sick leave during her service and been eligible to retire since 2006.
She started as a special education teacher in 1979, became assistant principal at Gordon Lee Memorial High School in 1993 and later the principal in 1997 prior to becoming superintendent in 2000.
She has received a three-year contract from the school board since 2003, with her recent contract beginning in January 2011, according to Day.
The board appointed Stacy McDaniel, the school system's director of special education and programs, as the interim superintendent. McDaniel is eligible to apply to become the permanent replacement.
“She has been at the central office level for a number of years and does an excellent job,” Day said. “We worked very closely together for years as far as planning, instruction and the direction of the system. She is well-versed in where we are and where we are going.”
An internal-based application process for Day’s permanent replacement has begun. Board members will be taking applications and could begin to consider a permanent replacement at the next boards meeting, with a possible decision during the following meeting in October, according to Jewell.
“If we have to go outside (our system), then we will rely on the resources of our (regional educational service agency) or even look at the state Superintendents Association,” Jewell said.
Applicants will be vetted for leadership qualifications and other criteria set by the state, according to Jewell.
“(Day) has done most of the planning for the first semester and has worked with the administrators to get them (ready) so that there wouldn’t be a big pause in action,” Jewell said.
He is hopeful that the person chosen as superintendent will be in place by late November to attend the annual Georgia School Superintendents Association meetings.
“We certainly want somebody in place with enough lead time to be able to continue the planning process for the second semester,” Jewell said.
The influencing factor in Day’s decision is a three-percent tax offset benefit that ends in 2012. The resulting decrease to educator’s pensions resulted in numerous retirements from local school systems during recent months.
As superintendent she notified all school system employees of the retirement change in early 2012.
Day is reluctant to fully retire, planning to seek a part-time role within education. She could only return in a part-time capacity with a 49 percent salary.
“This is so new to me that right now I just feel like I am on one of our (vacation) breaks,” Day said.
Day and her husband returned to Chickamauga Elementary School on Friday, Sept. 7, to take part in grandparent’s day rituals with her granddaughter Kate Chambers, who recently began kindergarten.
“We’re just enjoying this time and being with our family,” said Day, who is planning to remain connected to the Chickamauga school system as two young family members progress through the grades.
“Even though our own grandchildren are starting, so many of those children (in Chickamauga Public Schools) are like our children or grandchildren,” Day said.
She plans to travel more, with an ultimate goal of making a trip to Switzerland, where her grandfather, Augustus Buffett, is originally from.