By Crystal McGough
The Trussville City Board of Education named Dr. Patricia Neill the Interim Superintendent for the Trussville City School System at a special-called board meeting today. The board voted Monday to end Dr. Suzanne Freeman’s nearly eight-year run as the school system’s superintendent. Freeman had been the superintendent since Oct. 2004.
Board President Bill Roberts said that Alabama law places a six-month limit on contracts for interim superintendents. Neill’s compensation for her six-month contract will be $78,000.
“I’m very excited about taking the position and working with the people that I know and people that I don’t know,” Neill said. “I’m enthusiastic about moving Trussville City Schools onward and upward.”
Neill has served as Assistant Professor of Graduate Studies at Samford University since 2007. She will continue to work in this position while she fills the interim superintendent position in Trussville.
One of the reasons Neill wanted to work with Trussville City Schools was because of the encounters she has had with her Trussville students at Samford, she said.
“I have always been impressed with the Samford students in my graduate classes who were from Trussville,” she said. “I have seen, through my students at Samford in other school systems, that there was possibly some apathy or dysfunction in that school system. I never sensed that from my Trussville students.”
Neill said that she had considered applying for a principal position at Hewitt-Trussville High School several years ago, but decided she did not want to be a high school principal.
“I had already thought through the idea of working for Trussville City Schools in some capacity,” she said. “When the interim superintendent seat became available, there was no question in my mind.”
Neill has a Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University and a Master of Science degree and Doctor of Education degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville
She worked in the State of Tennessee Public School System for 30 years: seven years as a special education teacher, 15 years as an elementary school principal, four years as Central Office Director of Special Education, and four years as a superintendent of schools for the Cumberland County School District in Crossville, Tenn. She retired from the Tennessee Public School System in 2007 before she began working at Samford University.
Neill was named 1994 Principal of the Year by the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce in Tennessee and received an Excellence of Education Award from Fairview Elementary School in 1999.
She said she has not thought about whether or not she will apply for the superintendent position after her six-month contract ends.
“At this point in time, we’re going to take it six months at a time,” she said. “I can only do what the Board directs me to do.”
Roberts said that Neill will begin work on July 30 and that her first priority will be to fill the principal position at the high school.
“It gives us a lot of comfort, because we can not do anything without a superintendent,” Roberts said. “We can’t even recommend an employee without a superintendent to make the recommendation. It gives us great comfort to have a top-notch superintendent in place. Now we can start looking at filling the slots.”