Decatur High Principal Johnny Berry — as best he could in 1984 — fulfilled one of his dreams as a senior at Lexington High when he ran for superintendent of education in a mock election.
“I won,” he said, adding that serving as superintendent of a school system became a goal after spending a day with his cousin, Osbie “Hot” Linville, who was superintendent of Lauderdale County Schools at the time.
Berry reached his goal Monday night. After being a finalist for several superintendent vacancies in the state in recent years, he was hired by Arab City's school board as its new superintendent.
He’ll remain at Decatur High through the end of the first semester this month and take over in Arab sometime “in the first week in January.” Berry, 53, is in the final year of a three-year contract that pays him more than $110,000 annually.
He said he’ll be negotiating his contract with Arab school officials this week.
Decatur City Schools Superintendent Michael Douglas, who once served as principal at Arab High, said he will recommend an interim principal at the school board’s Dec. 17 meeting.
“I don’t know who that will be right now,” he said.
Douglas praised Berry's performance as Decatur High principal.
"He opened a new high school and was always promoting Decatur High and Decatur City Schools," Douglas said. "We wish him nothing but the best."
Banks-Caddell Elementary Principal David McCollum was also a finalist for the Arab job.
Berry, who has been in education since 1993, came to Decatur as an administrator in 2014 after spending most of his career in Hartselle, where he served in several positions, including high school basketball coach, counselor and athletic director.
He was named principal at Decatur High in 2016.
Berry, who completed his doctorate in education leadership from the University of Alabama in 2014, was a finalist for the Alexander City superintendent’s job in 2018.
Arab is a school system of about 2,700 students and four school sites. It was the only school district in the state where every school earned an A on its 2019 report card.
“I’m leaving a good school system for a good school system,” Berry said. “Arab is one of the best in the state, and it’s my job to build on what we have.”