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Powell named Escambia County superintendent

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
The Escambia County (Ala.) Board of Education voted Monday to offer the superintendent of education position to Melvin "Buck" Powell, currently the principal of Rachel Patterson Elementary School in Atmore.
If Powell accepts the job, two schools in Atmore will be in need of principals – Rachel Patterson and Escambia County High School.
When asked Tuesday about his plans for filling either position, Powell said, "I'm not in the capacity yet to select anybody on either one of the jobs. I have no idea who has applied at the high school or who will apply here."
Although the job will be offered to Powell, it is not a done deal. Salary negotiations will be part of the final process.
Voting to negotiate the salary was the first order of business in the called meeting, even before the field of candidates was narrowed.
Vice Chairman Jimmy Dukes asked the board's pleasure in offering the next superintendent the same salary as that paid to the current superintendent, $84,088.
Danny Benjamin made the motion to negotiate. Grissett seconded. The vote was unanimous.
Dukes asked the board if they wished to go into executive session.
Grissett said he felt an executive session was necessary to discuss the good name and character of the applicants.
Dukes asked it there was a motion to shorten the list to two or three prior to going into the executive session. Janice Ash made a motion that the list be shortened to two. Roger Madden seconded. The vote was unanimous to narrow the list.
At this point, board attorney Broox Garrett said that he had been in contact with all the candidates and that none had any major problems with the contract. The contract did not include salary figures.
Garrett replied that they were.
Grissett made a motion that the board's existing superintendent selection steering committee negotiate the contract.
Mike Goolsby seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to allow the steering committee to negotiate the contract.
Following a 35-minute executive session, the board reconvened and voted to narrow the list from five to two.
Garrett handed out a ballot to each board member with his or name on it. He asked the board members to write two names, not in any order.
In executive session, the board had appointed Benjamin to be with Garrett when he tallied the votes.
The vote to narrow the list to two was as follows:
n Benjamin – Dr. James Kemp and Dr. Ellis Dunbar
n Ash – Powell and Dunbar
n Grissett – Kemp and Dunbar
n Dukes – Dunbar and Powell
n Goolsby – Powell and Phillip Ellis
n A.D. Johnson – Powell and Dunbar
n Madden – Kemp and Powell
Dunbar and Powell received the most votes – five each. Kemp received three, Ellis one, Dr. Dan Bloom none.
Dukes asked the board if they wished to leave the list at two for the time being or continue.
Ash made a motion to continue the process and name a superintendent. Madden seconded. The vote was unanimous to proceed.
Dukes polled the board. Madden, Ash, Johnson, Goolsby and Dukes voted for Powell. Benjamin and Grissett voted for Dunbar.
Dukes made the motion on his own recommendation. Ash seconded. Madden, Ash, Johnson, Goolsby and Dukes voted in favor of the motion. Benjamin and Grissett voted against. Although the motion carried, it did not make Powell's selection unanimous.
The current superintendent's contract expires Aug. 31. Powell said he'll start as superintendent Friday, Sept. 1, if that's the board's desire.