News Staff Report
About 40 people, including several current and former educators, turned out Monday (June 7) to provide input on the search for a new county school superintendent. John Knott, the current county schools chief, recently announced his retirement.
Mike Barber, retired superintendent of Pell City Schools, chaired the meeting, which was held at Escambia County High School’s Hodnette Auditorium.
Barber, now a consultant with the Alabama Association of School Boards, said the meeting was intended to “help the school board find the person who is the best fit to run the school system in the future.”
The only elected official — city or county — to attend was Eunice Johnson, who represents District 3 on the Atmore City Council.
Discussion included the good and bad of local schools and the local community. Among the items brought to the floor by various members of Monday’s audience:
*The “disconnect” (perceived and actual) between Atmore and the county school administration, which is headquartered in Brewton.
*The need for a superintendent who can relate to administrators and teachers at the various schools, as well as to the youngsters who attend the schools.
*The exodus of local students to other public and private schools in the area.
*The loss of the JROTC program and other career programs that were once part of the ECHS curriculum.
*Positive comments about the culinary arts, cosmetology, welding and other career programs that are still offered at ECHS.
*The need for more transparency in the county school system’s Central Office.
*The need for a superintendent who is “focused on the whole.”
Many other points, positive and negative, were also offered.
Barber is holding meetings in Flomaton and Brewton to seek input from residents in each area where a public school exists, as well as from other educators and members of the school board.