Most Hamilton County commissioners said Wednesday they hope the school board’s next choice for superintendent is someone from Hamilton County.
On Tuesday, Superintendent Jim Scales said he had agreed to a buyout of his contract. Scales was hired in 2006 and came to the county from the Dallas (Texas) Independent School district.
Commissioners said they want the next superintendent to be someone who knows the school system and the community.
“I think we strongly need to look at someone locally to manage our system, someone that has expertise in the system, someone who can relate and communicate well with the school board and the County Commission,” Chairman Larry Henry said. “I would hope that’s the direction they would move in.”
Some have said Deputy Superintendent Rick Smith, who was a candidate for the job in 2006, is a likely replacement for the outgoing superintendent. Commissioners did not mention Smith specifically when asked about the board’s next move.
Commissioner Fred Skillern said the school system will be “better off” without Scales. He said the next superintendent “ought to be a local individual, somebody that has experience in the Hamilton County school system.”
Commissioner Joe Graham said he would prefer to elect a superintendent, but said the board should select a local candidate.
Commissioner Jim Fields said the school board should consider a retired CEO who doesn’t have an educational background.
“We have a lot of retired CEOs in this area,” Fields said. “They’ve got the skill set that would be necessary.”
Commissioner Mitch McClure said his constituents are strongly in favor of a local candidate.
“The last two they have hired for superintendent do not seem to have worked out to the citizens’ pleasure,” McClure said.
Commissioner Chester Bankston agreed.
Commissioner Greg Beck did not say whether he would prefer someone local, but he said the new superintendent should have a doctorate. Former schools Superintendent Jesse Register and Scales have doctoral degrees. Smith has a master’s degree.
“I think they should find them somebody that will meet their standards,” Beck said. “Apparently he [Scales] never has been able to meet their standards.”
Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...