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Superintendent search, Neill looks beyond the interim

by Anna McFall

Trussville’s school system has seen rapid growth in recent years and, most recently, has also faced a vacancy in the superintendent position.

During a September meeting of the Trussville Board of Education, it was announced that the school system would begin taking applications from candidates looking to fill the position. The application period has been open since Oct. 3.

The change in leadership occurred after the board voted in July to end Dr. Suzanne Freeman’s contract, ending her time as the school system’s superintendent, a position she held for nearly eight years. Freeman had been the superintendent since Oct. 2004.

Since that time, the duties of the position have been fulfilled by Dr. Pattie Neill, who was chosen to serve as Interim Superintendent until the position is filled.

Trussville City School’s Interim Superintendent, Patricia Neill

Neill has served as Assistant Professor of Graduate Studies at Samford University since 2007 and has continued to work in this position while she fills the interim superintendent position in Trussville.

During her time in the driver’s seat, Neill and her administration have established a working theme entitled “Onward and Upward” for this school year. When Neill was appointed, the board gave her four tasks, and Neill has risen to those expectations.  She immediately went to work adopting math textbooks and developing an Alternative Learning Center. Neill has also hired a director of curriculum and instruction, as well as hired both a Hewitt-Trussville High School principal and assistant principal.

“I have enjoyed being Interim Superintendent in Trussville City Schools,” Neill said. “This is a great place to be and I have had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and former students, work with wonderful employees to solve a few problems, and take direction from Board of Education members who care deeply for students, programs and the school system.”

While her accomplishments during the interim term have been many, Neill also believes that there are many things that still need attention in the school system.

“A strategic plan needs to be developed and implemented with stakeholders to give the system new direction,” she said.

Like many administrators and community members, Neill supports the idea of allowing Trussville schools to operate at full capacity by considering other building options.

“A new elementary school needs to be built to relieve overcrowding at the Paine campus and get students out of modular classrooms,” Neill said.

Trussville is still growing rapidly, with many projects and endeavors in the future, and these projects will require strong, consistent leadership.

Not only will the full time position require leadership, but Neill said there’s more to it than that.

“The new leader needs to have a high energy level, enthusiasm and desire to serve this great community,” she said. “Also, the new leader needs to recognize accomplishments and strong leadership all through the system since its inception seven years ago.”

According to policies upheld by Trussville City Schools, the school board and the superintendent work together to assure the best interest of the community’s children and stakeholders of the district. Although this is a team concept, both the board and the superintendent have unique responsibilities. The board sets the policies and the priorities; the superintendent and staff carry out those policies and priorities.

In accordance with Alabama State Law, the public notice for the opening of the superintendent position can be seen at the Board of Education central office and additionally at each work site in the school system.

The Board will be accepting applications through Nov. 3, 2012.   A new superintendent is expected to be named no later than Jan. 12, 2013.

Requirements for the position are that candidates possess a doctorate degree and the candidate is required to have previously held a superintendent position for a minimum of three years.

“The final candidate needs to bring experience as a superintendent in areas of proactive problem solving, strategic planning, and knowing a variety of instructional delivery models from which teachers can choose to express their academic freedom,” Neill said. “Also, a strong sense of working together in a participatory leadership and management style is important.”

When asked if she would be applying for the position, Neill said that she would love to stay in Trussville, to help the school system move onward and upward.

“I have been blessed by having the opportunity to work in Trussville,” she said. “You all have great momentum in your community in well-established foundation programs, excellent educators, supportive parents, eager students, awesome athletics, active churches, and informed, qualified elected and appointed officials. Trussville City School System is an excellent school system that is embarking on a new chapter in its history.”



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