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Superintendent suffers first setbacks
Morgan school board rejects 2 recommendations by Balch, citing lack of information

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

Bob Balch received his first setback Thursday as the newly elected Morgan County school superintendent.

Two of his personnel recommendations failed without a motion because school board members said they did not receive enough support information regarding the candidates.

Balch recommended hiring Vicki Smith as director of secondary education and Valerie Renz as a social studies teacher at Lacey's Spring School. The board unanimously passed his remaining 20 personnel recommendations.

Four of five school board members at the meeting said they didn't receive the applications or resumes of the candidates to help them decide whether to approve the two hirings.

New board member Kenneth Henson said he is still getting acclimated and didn't want to comment. School board chairman Jimmy Dobbs was out of town.

"We have to be accountable for our vote, and I think we need more information by law before we can vote for these positions," School board member Carolyn Wallace said.

School board member Tom Earwood said the issue was "just a matter of not following policy and following through correctly with proper information." But he said he understands there's some inexperience in the new administration.

"The superintendent makes the calls, but we as the board need the information to cast our votes," Earwood said.

Board members denied that the lack of a motion on the Smith recommendation was politically motivated. Smith ran for superintendent last summer, lost to Balch in the Republican primary and then supported Balch the in runoff and the general election.

"Personally, I don't know anything about her except that she ran for superintendent," Wallace said. "I don't know her qualifications because I haven't seen her application or resume."

Smith, a math specialist for Huntsville City Schools, was one of eight applicants to fill the secondary director position.

While board member Betty Hackett said she prefers promoting from within the school system, she added that sometimes it's good to bring in someone from outside. She said she didn't push the motion because she didn't have enough information to proceed to a vote.

Wallace said she would be willing to reconsider the two recommendations if Balch supplies the proper supporting information.

Balch said after the meeting that he is still trying to get acclimated and took the blame for the "oversight" in not giving the board enough information. He said he would make sure the board gets more than enough information in the future.

He would not say whether he would re-recommend the two candidates at the next board meeting.

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