Anniston school board interviews first superintendent candidate
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Jan 08, 2014 | 3222 views |  0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anniston might soon close up to two elementary schools due to low enrollment but if Vickie Scott can have her way, those facilities won't go to waste.

The Anniston Board of Education's efforts to reorganize the city school system was but one of several subjects Scott addressed Tuesday during her interview for the job of superintendent. The main interview took place in public at the Anniston City Meeting Center.

The board expects to hire one of four candidates as superintendent in February to replace Superintendent Joan Frazier, who will retire at the end of the school year. The board will interview the other three candidates over the next two weeks.

Board member Bill Robison asked Scott about her experience with school reorganizing and whether the board should wait until a new superintendent is hired before making a decision on the issue. The board in recent months has worked on plans to consolidate the school system to save money, due to dropping enrollment in recent years.

"Absolutely you should wait," Scott said. "You need to wait until the superintendent knows all the academic needs are addressed."

Scott, who has several years experience as an assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent for two Georgia school systems, said she has experience in not just closing schools, but repurposing them so they could still support their communities.

"We closed schools, but we repurposed traditional schools, turning some into teaching museums," Scott said, referring to facilities that provide hands-on educational exhibits and other arts-based programs.

Scott also referenced Cobb Elementary, a school the board has suggested could close due to low enrollment. Scott said she had a chance to visit Cobb earlier Tuesday and said it could potentially be turned into an after-school center for additional science, math, engineering and technology education.

"But when you're talking about repurposing schools, it's important to act on what the needs are in the community," Scott said.

Scott, 54, works with Highpoints Learning in Duluth, Ga. Highpoints Learning is an education company that serves 27 states and offers programs to improve math achievement in schools. She has an education doctorate from Nova Southeastern University, along with a graduate degree and master’s degree in education from the University of Georgia.

The board members had various questions that related to how Scott could improve the school system. Board member Mary Klinefelter asked what Scott would do to improve Anniston's graduation rate and lower its dropout rate. Similarly, board member C.K. Huguley asked Scott what she has done to ensure high school students were ready to perform at the college level.

Scott said designing focused after-school programs could help school systems improve, particularly those in impoverished areas.

"Part of working with students in poverty is extending their day," Scott said. "Many of these children have no one at home telling them to study."

Scott said while working in other school systems, she and her staff made a point to talk with students and ask them why they were skipping classes. They discovered many students were working, helping support their parents and did not have time for school in the day.

"We had to teach them in the evening," she said. "You have to design programs to meet the needs of students."

Scott said she believes teachers are the foundation of education and the most important part of any school system.

"My role is to provide support and leadership and ensure those teachers have the materials they need," Scott said. "And it's my sole responsibility that we have quality teachers in every classroom."

Scott said that in regards to funding, she has never relied solely on federal or state money and would do the same in Anniston. Scott said she has helped bring millions of dollars of support from nonprofit foundations and businesses into school systems.

"I will go wherever the funds drive me to go," Scott said.

Scott noted that if hired, she plans to stay in Anniston for many years. Scott added that she will constantly engage teachers and parents, visiting classrooms regularly, and she will institute an open-door policy to the community.

"I want to build collaborative relationships," Scott said. "And it will be my job to listen to all the parents."

The board will hold its next superintendent interview at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Anniston City Meeting Center.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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