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BOE approves state superintendent contract, nixes sporadic evaluations

Alabama State Board of Education

The new state superintendent of education’s contract includes a hefty salary bump and a section that hearkens back to the departure of former state Superintendent Michael Sentance, who resigned last September.

Eric Mackey, once the executive director of the Schools Superintendents of Alabama, is officially the state superintendent of education after the State Board of Education officially adopted his contract, and the new leader of the Department of Education will start today.

The 3-year contract was approved in a 6-2 vote, and will include a salary of $245,000, which is a pay increase from Sentance’s salary.

Section 5 of the contract also sets a date for the superintendent’s evaluation in December of every year and makes it clear that the board will work with the superintendent to approve of the evaluation rubric 1 year in advance.

Last year, fellow board members had a bitter tussle with handling the evaluation of Sentance.

Sentance’s evaluation came after less than 1 year on the job, and it also came seemingly out of nowhere with board members being informed of the evaluation only one week before the board meeting where the evaluation would be discussed.

The board completed the evaluation process in a closed-door meeting that, according to the Board’s attorney Lewis Gillis at the time, was called to protect the reputation of someone else other than Sentance.

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The move prompted two board members to protest the evaluation process and Board Member Mary Scott Hunter refused to even fill out the evolution citing the secrecy of the meeting.

“We should conduct the people’s business in front of the people,” Hunter said of the move at the time.

Ultimately, the evaluation would preempt Sentance’s resignation amid a probable eventual firing by the Board.

The evaluation section does not prevent the Board from firing the Mackey outright however. The contract still gives the Board the power to fire Mackey after a 90-day notice.

Mackey’s selection as state superintendent came after a close vote in April. His selection ended a 7-month long search after Sentance’s resignation.

As an incoming superintendent, Mackey faces a variety of problems facing Alabama.

The Montgomery Public Schools takeover, the implementation of the Every Student’s Succeeds Act, and rebuilding trust with the public and Legislature top the list.

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