Troy superintendent to interview in Phenix City

Published 11:48 pm Friday, May 30, 2014

Three days after losing the athletic director and head football coach to Phenix City Schools, Troy Superintendent Dr. Lee Hicks confirmed he is a candidate for that district’s top spot.
“It’s an opportunity that I just have to look at for my family,” Hicks said late Friday. “I love it here in Troy, but I first have to make sure my family is provided for.”
The news disappointed but didn’t surprise Troy City Schools Board of Education chairman Wally Lowery.
“They want him,” Lowery said. “They have an aggressive board over there and they’re moving in a new direction. They’re going after people with graduation rates over 85 percent, strong athletic programs and districts moving in the right direction. That want what we have here in Troy.”
Hicks will interview with the Phenix City Board of Education at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Central High School Auditorium. The interview was announced Friday, after that district’s board met in a closed session for 75 minutes. “It’s been a whirlwind of a week,” said Hicks, explaining that he traveled to Phenix City on Thursday.
On Tuesday, the Phenix City board hired Jamey Dubose to be head football coach for the Class 7A Central High School. Dubose came to Charles Henderson High School in Troy in late January to coach football and serve as athletic director. He and Hicks worked together in Prattville, where Hicks was principal and Dubose led the Prattville team to a record of 42-13 and two state championships. In leaving, Dubose cited the opportunity to coach at a 7A program.
“We knew when we hired him it was going to be tough keeping him year-in and year-out,” Hicks said at the time.
Hicks was not among the original finalists selected the Phenix City board.
According to a report in the Columbus, Ga., newspaper, Phenix City Board President Ben Baker said someone on behalf of Hicks relayed the Troy superintendent’s interest in the Phenix City opening during its interview process. The board originally had selected four candidates for the open superintendent position but interviewed only two of them: one dropped out of the race prior to interviews and the other was hired by the Cullman County Board of Education.
Hicks said Friday that neutral parties had put him and the Phenix City representatives in contact, a move he felt was necessary as his contract with Troy City Schools has yet to be finalized. “If this had been secured earlier, I would have never pursued anything,” he said. “But they have a great school system there, they have good facilities … and they put their students first.”
Hicks was hired by the Troy City Schools in 2011. His initial three-year contract is set to expire on June 30, although he is automatically granted a one-year extension because the contract had not been renewed or notification of cancellation given by Jan. 1, 2014.
“That’s something I’ve left to the board and the board president,” Hicks said. “I’ve had nothing but support from the board members here in Troy and I appreciate the kind words they’ve been relaying to me today … I’ve had several conversations with people and they are supportive and understand this is something I need to consider for my family.”
Lowery said the Troy City Board of Education will meet at 5:15 p.m. Monday with the goal of finalizing the contract. “This is something that we’ve been working on,” Lowery said.
Board member Roxie Kitchens said Friday she was aware of Hicks’ upcoming interview of Phenix City but, like others on the board, remains focused on the future for Troy City Schools. “Regardless of the outcome, I am optimistic of the future for Troy City Schools.”
Phenix City’s superintendent vacancy was created when the seven-member board unanimously voted in a called meeting Nov. 26 to place Larry DiChiara on administrative leave and to seek a buyout of the 4½ years left on his contract. The board has not explained  why it chose to abruptly end DiChiara’s 9½-year tenure, which includes being named Alabama Superintendent of the Year three years ago. Such a buyout is expected to cost more than $750,000, but the deal hasn’t been finalized six months later because DiChiara and the board haven’t settled on a figure. The dispute is focused on the benefits owed in the contract. DiChiara’s two lawsuits against the board are pending in Russell County Circuit Court. Now that his Phenix City contract has been terminated, he is acting superintendent of Selma City Schools as part of the Alabama State Department of Education intervention team.

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