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AASB holds input meetings in search of new superintendent

Between 35-40 Atmore-area Escambia County School System (ECSS) stakeholders shared their input June 7 during a meeting at Escambia County High School on what their vision is for the next superintendent.

Former Superintendent John Knott announced his retirement in late April, and the Alabama Association of School Boards is holding community input meetings to aid in the search to fill Knott’s seat.

A mix of school system administrators, educators and parents attended the meeting, and Dr. Mike Barber with the AASB served as a moderator and asked questions throughout the hour-long event.

Barber said the AASB has already received several applications for the position, and the deadline is July 1.

Barber said the AASB will use the input gathered from the meetings at the three high schools during interviews of candidates. Input meetings were held at Flomaton High School and W.S. Neal High School on June 8.

When asked what are some good things about the ECSS and the Atmore community, a couple of stakeholders spoke.

City councilwoman Eunice Johnson said there are some great things to note about the system in the Atmore area. She said Rachel Patterson Elementary School is a great school, and Escambia County Middle School is good, but has its problems.

“And Escambia County High School is great, too,” Johnson said, however.

Johnson noted ECHS’s past and she’d like the next superintendent to be more involved in the high school’s academic and athletic leadership, and be more hands on with the students.

The Rev. Willie Hawthorne said the high school has seen its ups and downs, and there have been some great students who have graduated from the school. He said a big problem is that students are leaving.

“Our best athletes have left,” Hawthorne said about an example. “We need to bring the school back where we used to be.”

Other input on what stakeholders want in the next superintendent included:

• transitioning programs offered at ECMS to ECHS;

• revitalizing programs that aren’t active, including the R.O.T.C. program;

• to be an effective communicator, to be transparent, a visionary and bringing all schools in the system together;

• making sure teachers are selfless;

• increasing parental involvement;

• a leader who doesn’t mind talking with the community;

• someone who has experience in education in rural communities;

• a candidate that is willing to be the superintendent for some four years;

• establishing an Atmore central office;

• a leader who is present on economic issues, including boards, etc.; and,

• keeping teams or groups together for a period of time.