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Board to interview six for top school job

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle School Board voted unanimously at its last meeting to interview six of 13 candidates for superintendent. The board also agreed to hold a work session on Jan. 27 to establish questions and guidelines for the interviews.
Subject to interview are five of the top six candidates, based on a numerical ranking established earlier by a screening committee. They are William Michael Reed, Joe Walters, Jeremy Jones, William David Burns and S. Joanne P. Horton. Walters is principal at Crestline Elementary School and Jones is a former principal at Danville-Neel Elementary, who is now working in the central office of Morgan County Schools. William M. Booth, head baseball coach, transportation director and a teacher at Hartselle High School, was also selected to be interviewed on condition that the school system's attorney concurs.
The decision was made to include Booth as an interviewee even though board member Jeff Gray reported he was told by attorney Bill Shinn before the meeting that it shouldn't be done.
"He said we can't do that because the candidates were ranked by the committee. He thinks some of other candidates ranked ahead of him might have recourse against the board if we do that," Gray said.
Board Chairman Ronnie Abercrombie first made a motion to interview candidates ranked second through sixth. Then, board member Dr. Andy Dukes suggested that Booth also be interviewed.
"I don't know if we ever expressed to the committee that we wanted the candidates ranked," Dr. Dukes said.
Board member Cathy Goodwin added, "I thought it was understood from the start that we could interview any candidate we wanted to."
After Abercrombie's motion was amended and voted on, Dr. Hartsell indicated he would contact Shinn immediately and get his opinion on skipping from the seventh ranked candidate to 13th in order to reach Booth.
"At some point you're going to have to know what questions to ask, who is going to ask them, and pick five or six dates and commit the candidates to interviews on those dates," Dr. Hartsell said.
He added, "you're probably looking at the second or third week in January to start interviewing."
In an hour-long work session prior to the regular meeting, Sandra Sims deGraffenreid, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, briefed board members on recommended practices for the interviewing of superintendent candidates. Among her suggestions were the following: