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Superintendents say Sentance resignation won’t affect local school systems

Superintendents of Pike County Schools and Troy City School said the resignation of State Superintendent Michael Sentance won’t have any direct immediate impact locally.

Sentance resigned last Wednesday after a tumultuous year on the job and ahead of a school board meeting in which some members were expected to push to fire him.

“I don’t expect any impact here in the short-term,” said Dr. Mark Bazell, superintendent of Pike County Schools. “I am interested though in important decisions coming down the road for the state, such as which state assessment will be adopted for use. The state dropped the (ACT) Aspire assessment and is considering options of new assessments. I’m interested in the decision and how it’s going to be made; I think it’s important to get input across the education community.”

Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent of Troy City Schools, said he is focused on running things on the local level and doesn’t worry too much about what’s happening with the state board.

“We’ll just continue doing what we can, which is educating our students,” Hicks said. “We have confidence that the state board will put someone in place and keep moving forward. We’ll just wait and see what the future holds.”

While the board goes through the process of hiring a replacement, Ed Richardson has been brought back into the role that he once filled to handle the transition.

“I’m pleased that they have selected Dr. Richardson to be the interim,” Bazzell said. “He’s a well-known educator and he’ll do a great job. He’s been in this position before and will hopefully get the state department back on a steadier path. There are some really important decisions that are well on their way to being made while he’s there and it gives us a lot of confidence that whatever decisions are made will be the right ones.”

Sentance submitted a resignation, effective immediately, to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and state board members last Wednesday.

“I am humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to serve as state superintendent in Alabama,” Sentance said in a statement issued through the Alabama Department of Education.

“There are many good things happening in public education in this state. My hope is that Alabama makes educating all children the state’s highest priority, allowing the state to make significant educational gains and truly becoming the jewel of the south that it has the ability to become.”

Sentance, an education consultant and former Massachusetts secretary of education, was an outsider without ties to Alabama when a divided state school board picked him to become the next superintendent. Board members who voted for him praised his innovation, saying he would bring fresh ideas. Others raised concerns about his absence of classroom and school experience.

Bazzell said when the board hires a new superintendent, more experience within the education system would be a plus.

“I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, but it would be a huge plus to have someone in that position who has worked at the grassroots level in education and spent time in schools and understands the dynamics of running a local school system,” Bazzell said. “I think that’s a big plus for any candidate for the state superintendent.”

Ivey, who as governor serves as president of the school board, said the resignation allows the state to solidify the position.

“Over the past two years, Alabama has experienced far too many changes in state government,” Ivey said in a statement. “As with previous changes in leadership positions, we will use the resignation of the state superintendent as an opportunity to move forward and begin a new chapter in public education.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.