The Morgan County school board has selected four superintendent finalists who all have ties to the district, but the interview process will be delayed to focus on beginning the school year Aug. 12.
The finalists are Robert Elliot, Cherie Humphries, Brad Stapler and Lee Willis. All but Stapler currently work in the school system, and he is a former employee.
Attorney Taylor Brooks of Lanier Ford law firm is assisting the district in its search for a new superintendent. Brooks said at a school board meeting Wednesday the district received 20 applications for the position, and school board members voted to select four top candidates.
Elliot currently serves as principal of Brewer High School. In addition to previously serving as a teacher and assistant principal at Priceville and Brewer high schools, Elliot served as principal of Union Hill School for eight years.
Humphries is the director of elementary education for Morgan County Schools. She has held this role since 2015. Previously, she served first as assistant principal and then as principal of Priceville Elementary School, and as a teacher both within and outside Morgan County Schools.
Stapler is currently the career tech director for Arab City Schools and serves as the assistant principal at Arab High School. Previously, Stapler served as principal at Cotaco School for nearly five years, and as a teacher and coach within Morgan County Schools.
Willis is the deputy superintendent for the Morgan County board of education. He has held this role since 2011. Previously, Willis served as assistant principal at Brewer High School and principal at Morgan County Alternative School. Willis also worked in two other school systems as an assistant principal and teacher.
The school board will vote to select a superintendent at its Sept. 10 meeting.
Originally, the new superintendent was expected to begin work by Aug. 17, but concerns that the first week of school will be particularly hectic due to the coronavirus pandemic caused the school board to vote to postpone the selection of a new superintendent. The board unanimously voted to conduct interviews on Aug. 18 and Aug. 20. The system has been led since July 1 by Dee Fowler, interim superintendent.
School board chairman John Holley said at the school board meeting Wednesday all four candidates will receive a list of the questions they will be asked by Aug. 14 to avoid the unequal advantage that the candidates interviewing on the second interview date might receive if they were able to watch the first two candidates’ recorded interviews in advance.
Holley said the candidates are familiar with Morgan County Schools.
“All four finalists know our school system very well. I don’t believe there is a need for us to take them on tours of schools and things like that. I think they know our system probably as well as we do if not better,” Holley said.
The vacancy was created after former superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. accepted a position as director of schools for Fayetteville, Tennessee.
Hopkins’ last day as superintendent of Morgan County Schools was June 30. The school board voted June 11 to appoint Fowler as interim superintendent. Fowler did not apply for the permanent superintendent position, but agreed to serve as interim superintendent until a replacement is able to take over.
District spokeswoman Lisa Screws said the new superintendent will serve the remainder of Hopkins’ term, which ends in November 2022. The annual pay range for the new superintendent will be $120,000 to $146,000.