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New K.G. superintendent says focus will be on kids

BY LINDLEY ESTES

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

Robert Benson, newly hired superintendent of King George schools was welcomed to the county by the School Board with a gift.

The board presented Benson with a book, a pictorial history of King George.

“This is to understand the past, where we’re at, so you know where we need to go,” said School Board Chairman Michael Rose.

But Benson is no stranger to the area.

He grew up in Prince William County and began his career in education as a music teacher in Woodbridge, where he lived for 10 years before moving to Georgia. He served as an assistant superintendent in Cobb County schools.

His wife, Shelley, taught art in Woodbridge. And though his middle-school-age son, Samuel, was too young to remember much of Virginia, Benson said he’s looking forward to the move. They’re already looking for baseball teams for him.

Baseball in the area is an added benefit for Benson, whose favorite team is the Baltimore Orioles.

But he plans on taking care of the school district before going to any games.

“Initially, the biggest challenge is making sure that I understand the needs of the school district and desires of the community,” Benson said. “I’m anxious to get started. I can’t say there’s one thing in particular I want to work on. But once I get started and talk to the principals and community, that will help define the immediate direction.”

Benson begins working in the county today and his contract runs through June 30, 2016. He will earn $134,400 per year, according to the contract.

Benson’s contract also includes a $425 monthly vehicle allowance, a $5,000 annual annuity, health and life insurance, and “reasonable cellphone service.”

Benson said the focus in his previous school districts was on constant improvement.

Even though those districts were much larger—Cobb has 107,000 students, he hopes to bring that same focus to King George.

He also thinks he’ll work well with the School Board.

“The board’s questions to me were very child-centered. I could see on the other side of the table that our values were the same. I’m all about the kids,” he said.

Benson said that everyone he’s talked to in the community has been very student-centered.

“They are concerned about what’s best for the kids,” he said. “That’s refreshing and encouraging. That’s the right direction and I look forward to building on that foundation.”

He said that he’s not the kind of superintendent who just goes to meetings.

“I’m certain they’ll see a lot of me,” he said of staff, students and their parents. “Not just at school, but at extracurricular activities.”

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