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PRATTVILLE — The Autauga County Board of Education will select a candidate for the schools system’s next superintendent on Thursday night.

The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Prattville High School. The board interviewed six finalists over a week period. The meeting is open to the public, but just how much of the process will be conducted in public is unknown.

“I don’t like the idea of deciding candidates in public,” said Board President Mark Hindman on Monday night after the final candidate had been interviewed. “We’ve never done this before. But we will seek counsel and do it right.”

A public discussion could limit board members’ candor in discussing candidates, District 5 representative Ledronia Goodwin said.

There were 36 applicants overall. The board will appoint the next superintendent following the passage of a law this past legislative session giving them that power.

Current Superintendent Spence Agee is not seeking re-election to his third, four-year term. His tenure ends Dec. 31.

The finalists

  • Gregory DeJarnett: Serving now as education administrator at the Alabama Department of Education. He holds a doctorate degree. He has held his current position since 2014. Before then he was an education specialist at the state department. He served as principal of Chilton County High School from 2008 to 2012, and was transportation director for the Chilton County Schools from 2004-2008.
  • Michele Eller: Serving now as chief academic officer and assistant superintendent at Chickasaw City Schools, a post she has held since July 2019. She holds a doctorate. Before going to the Chickasaw system she worked with the Eufaula City Schools as director of teaching and learning from February 2019 to June 2019. Before then, she was director of secondary instruction at Eufaula schools from November 2015 to February 2019. Chickasaw operates three schools with an enrollment of 1,155.
  • Tim Guinn: Serving now as assistant superintendent at Russellville City Schools, a position he has held since June of 2016. He holds a doctorate. Before becoming an assistant superintendent, he served as a principal with the Russellville system from March 2009 to June 2016. Russellville operates five schools with an enrollment of 2,446.
  • Penny Johnson: Serving now as an assistant superintendent of curriculum, professional learning and assessment at Troup County (Ga.) Schools, a position she held since July 2018. She holds a doctorate degree. Before becoming an assistant superintendent, she served as director of secondary education for the system. She also served as principal at LaGrange High School from 2012 to 2014. Troup County has 22 schools with an enrollment of 12,300.
  • Timothy Tidmore: Serving now as deputy superintendent for federal programs at Albertville City Schools. Albertville’s system has six schools with an enrollment of 6,062.
  • Lee Willis: Serving now as deputy superintendent-director of technology and campus safety for Morgan County Schools. Before then he was athletic director and assistant principal of technology at A.P. Brewer High School from January 2008 through January 2011. He also served as principal for Morgan County’s alternative school from January 2000 through January 2002 and assistant principal of Speake School from January 1991-January 1999. Morgan County’s system has 19 schools and an enrollment of 7,553.

Autauga schools are the largest employer in the county with more than 1,000 full and part-time employees. The system has an enrollment of about 9,200 and operates 14 schools. The budget for this year is about $88 million. The base salary for the next superintendent is $145,000, but that amount is negotiable based on qualifications, experience and educational level.

Once a candidate is selecting the negotiation process will begin, said Hindman. He said the board hopes to have a candidate in place and on the job by mid-November.

The Alabama Association of School Boards handled the search process and came up with the list of applicants. A series of public input sessions was held in the county to gauge the qualifications the public felt the next superintendent should have. Local board members say they never saw a full list of applicants.

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Marty Roney at mroney@gannett.com.

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