The Calhoun County Board of Education Thursday night released the names of five candidates being considered to succeed Judy Stiefel, who is retiring in January. Three of the educators work in Calhoun County now and two did so in the past.
The candidates are Oxford High School principal William “Trey” Holiday; White Plains Middle School principal Joe Dyer; Alexandria Elementary School principal Sally McClure; Karen Winn, the assistant superintendent of Lee County Schools; and Rita Wright, the associate superintendent of Montgomery County Schools.
Winn and Wright have the local connections, according to school board attorney Robin Andrews, both having held several administrative positions in the Calhoun County School System before moving on to their current positions.
Winn served as a principal in the system and Wright served as a technology director for the system, Andrews said.
From the applications received, Andrews reviewed and submitted seven to a special committee of the board for review. From those the committee approved five.
The candidates will meet with the board Nov. 4 at 8:30 a.m. for public interviews. The location has not been selected.
“We want everyone to participate in the process … every component of the system,” board chairman Tom Young said of the interview process.
In other business, Chief School Financial officer Kim McPherson announced that the school system closed the financial year Sept. 30 with about $1 million more than it’s required to hold in its operating reserve.
The reserve held $6.6 million as of that date, as opposed to the $5.6 million, which is the one month’s operating expense that the state requires the reserve to hold.
McPherson credits the system’s financial health to conservative spending, the county-wide 1-cent sales tax and federal dollars funneled through the governor’s office. That federal money, which was part of the stimulus package, totaled $2 million and was used to pay utilities, freeing up money for the reserve, she said.
She also said the system spent just 96 percent of the money it budgeted to use on school expenses. That four percent difference accounted for about a $2.5 million dollar savings.
Some of that savings was lost through an additional 2 percent proration, which cost the system about $1.1 million at the close of the year, but administrators are still pleased by the system’s bottom line in the midst of the struggling economy.
“I feel very good going into the new year,” McPherson said.
Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544.