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Who will be the next state superintendent?

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama State School Board is in the final stages of choosing the next State Superintendent of Schools.

The Board will continue its work session Friday and discuss a select group of candidates from the Ray search firm.

Who will it ultimately be? I don’t think the board members themselves know that yet. But, I have some informed guesses on who the finalists will be.

At the risk of being completely wrong about this, here are a few names to look for when finalists are announced Friday.

  • Craig Pouncey, current Jefferson County Superintendent. Pouncey was the No. 2 at the State Department of Education some time back and his bid to become state superintendent the first time around got ugly. In fact, Pouncey is currently suing State School Board Member Mary Scott Hunter, who he claims torpedoed his chances. That seems awkward, but many say he is most likely to get the job.
  • Eric Mackey, current Executive Director of the School Superintendents of Alabama. In the wake of the declining influence of the Alabama Education Association, Mackey has turned the superintendents’ organization into a political force in the State House and the Department of Education. He brings existing working relationships with the all the state’s 137 school superintendents
  • Kathy Murphy, current Hoover City Schools Superintendent. Murphy has risen thought the education ranks in Alabama, previously serving as superintendent in Marion County and then leading Hoover schools since 2015. She has consistently received positive marks in evaluations. If there was an “outsider” candidate from within the state, she would be it.
  • Mark Bazell, current Pike County Schools Superintendent. Bazell is a homegrown educator who has spent more than 20 years in the Pike County school system. While probably a long shot for the job, Bazell is well-respected in the education community and could be a dark horse candidate.

There are rumored to be at least three finalists from out of state. Given that former State Superintendent Michael Sentence, who came from Massachusetts, didn’t last a year in the job, it seems unlikely the board would look out of state again.

Still, there are rumored to be quality candidates from North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee.

Multiple sources have indicated current Washington County, Tennessee Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton might be among those the board might consider from out of state. Halliburton made a name for herself as a principal in the Nashville Metro public schools system.

Again, it’s unlikely that an out-of-state candidate would ultimately get the job, but who knows.

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