Mary Hillis


Four administrators will be in different roles with Decatur City Schools next year, and an elementary school with about 415 students is looking for a principal.

During a special meeting Monday, a unanimous school board voted to transfer Rachel Poovey from principal at Decatur Middle to coordinator of Developmental Services, which includes serving as principal at Decatur High Developmental.

In the same vote, the board moved Luke Bergeson from principal at Chestnut Grove Elementary to principal at Decatur Middle.

The board also transferred James Penley from assistant principal at Decatur Middle to assistant transportation supervisor; and Mary Hillis, from assistant principal at Decatur High to assistant principal at the Career Academies of Decatur.

Superintendent Michael Douglas said the transfers were voluntary and Poovey was one of several applicants to apply for the coordinator of developmental services, a position the board created in April.

“She’s returning to her field,” the superintendent said.

Poovey’s annual salary, which is slightly more than $100,000, will remain the same. Meanwhile, Bergeson’s annual salary will go from $82,314 to $86,461; and Penley’s yearly pay will increase from $72,456 to $76,503.

Chief Financial Officer Melanie Maples was not at the meeting so salary information about Hillis was not available.

Bergeson, a 1999 Decatur High graduate, said he was pleased to be returning to the halls where he attended high school.

Before making any changes, he said he plans to meet with the faculty to discuss what traditions need to be kept.

“I’m excited for the opportunity this board and superintendent have given to me,” Bergeson said.

Poovey was not at the meeting and not available for comment.

Yvette Evans, DCS deputy superintendent of instruction who also handles human resource issues, said the district has to post the Chestnut Grove vacancy for 14 days.

Poovey, a Hoover native with a doctorate in leadership and administration from the University of Alabama, has served in several roles with DCS. She came to work for the district in 1995 as a teacher at Somerville Road Elementary.

She was an assistant principal at Oak Park Middle for two years before moving to Leon Sheffield in 2007, where she was principal. In June 2015, she left the magnet school to become elementary education supervisor, a position she held until 2017 when she became principal at Oak Park Middle, now called Decatur Middle.

In the same meeting when Poovey became elementary education supervisor, the board hired Bergeson as assistant principal at Austin High to replace Joseph Phillips, who retired after working 26 years with DCS.

Before coming to DCS, the 1999 Decatur High graduate worked 10 years with Huntsville City Schools, the last two with assistant principal responsibilities at Westlawn Middle School.

Bergeson has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Alabama A&M and a master’s in instructional leadership from Samford University. He transferred to Chestnut Grove in 2017. One of his biggest accomplishments at the school came in 2018 when third-grade reading scores were in the top 50 statewide, which earned the school a $20,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Education.

The board’s next meeting is June 11, but Douglas said he will likely not recommend a replacement for Bergeson at Chestnut Grove at that meeting.

- or 256-340-2469. Twitter @DD_Deangelo.
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