Sylacauga BOE discusses superintendent search
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – The Board of Education discussed the search for a new superintendent at a work session following its regular meeting Monday night.

Superintendent Renee Riggins has openly stated her intent to retire at the end of this school year. Board members agreed they should begin the search process early and in time to comfortably complete the search and make the transition before next school year.

In a conversation facilitated by Sally Howell of the Alabama Association of School Boards, the board expressed the qualities it would like in a candidate. Board members said Sylacauga needs someone who can manage the capital improvement projects at the high school and possibly the new central office, keep academics scores high with the changing demographics and set goals and hold everyone accountable for those goals, among other qualities.

“You have an attractive community and a good reputation in terms of your educational traditions here,” Howell said, “but also this would be viewed as somewhat of a starting position for a superintendent, because it’s not that large of a school system.”

The search will likely begin in February, allowing for a four- to six-week application period, two rounds of interviews and time for the selected candidate to give notice to their previous employer, Howell said. The new superintendent should be in place by June.

Howell said the board must decide if it will conduct the search itself or through a consulting service such as the AASB. One benefit of using a consultant is that applications are screened for criteria before they are sent to the board and therefore made public record.

At the meeting prior to the work session, the board heard a proposal from Ray Williams of Barganier Davis and Sims for a new central office building to potentially be constructed next to the site of the current office on West Fourth Street. The total cost of the proposed project is $2,528,763, including two parking lots and repairs to the entrance road. The 21,000 square-foot building would take about 10 months to complete, Williams said, and the current building would be demolished.

The board also discussed concerns about the baseball booster accounts at Sylacauga High School. An internal audit was recently performed by Chief Financial Officer Lisa Dickerson after questions arose about the use of profits from concession stands, deposited money, issuing of receipts and other matters. Dickerson has requested a special audit of the club by the auditors who will come in next month for the systemwide audit. In the meantime, it was recommended that the Booster Club elect officers, which it does not currently have, that will approve spending. Boosters will also be in charge of the concession stand, banquet and any fundraisers that don’t apply toward student fees.

In other business, the board tabled a $141,821 change order for the SHS addition project. The funds were received as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and must be used before June 1, 2013. The board will hear from parties involved in the SHS project at its next meeting before voting on the funds, as requested by board member Steve Marlowe.

All board members were present at the meeting, although Marlowe did not stay for the work session and Skip Smithwick left soon after it started.

The board also approved the following personnel actions:

• Voluntary transfers of Norma Jean Bryan from the Child Nutrition Program at Nichols-Lawson Middle School to Indian Valley Elementary School, effective Oct. 26, and Yolanda Clemons from fifth grade teacher to special education teacher at Pinecrest Elementary, effective Nov. 26.

• Retirement of Linda Withus, instructional assistant at Indian Valley, and Randy Hamilton, head custodian at Indian Valley. Both are effective Jan. 1, 2013.

• Employment of substitute teachers Chonda Blocker, Lisa Dobbs, David Faircloth, Jessica Helms, Monica Jackson, Lauren Ogle, Kristie Robinson and April Waites. Also, employment of Nichols-Lawson assistant baseball coach Patrick Harris. All are effective with the next school year.

• Leaves of absence for Laura Griffith and Nancy Prince until family members of released from care and maternity leave for Laurie Barton effective Jan. 4, 2013 through Feb. 18.

The next board meeting will be held Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the central office.

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© 2012