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Morgan board OKs 1 hire for school post

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

New Morgan County Superintendent Bob Balch tried again Monday at a called meeting and got a split decision on two recommendations that failed earlier this month.

The school board approved Vicki Smith, a math specialist in Huntsville City Schools, with a 6-1 vote. But Balch's recommendation to hire Valerie Renz as a social studies teacher at Lacey's Spring failed for a lack of a second.

The board went into an executive session, and raised but unintelligible voices could be heard at one point du-
ring the 15-minute session.

Balch wouldn't comment on his failed recommendation, but school board member Carolyn Wallace said the board didn't want to hire Renz for a third time. The board did not renew Renz's contract in 2000 and 2003.

"I'm not convinced anything's changed with her (Renz) from the previous problems she had," Wallace said.

School board member Tom Earwood made the motion to hire Renz, but school board President Jimmy Dobbs received silence when he asked for a second. After the meeting, Earwood said he was
"fulfilling a promise" when he made the motion.

After the meeting, Dobbs said he "didn't feel comfortable putting her back into the system."

Problem solved

Board members said the problem with the Smith recommendation at the Jan. 11 meeting was that Balch had failed to provide supporting information, such as Smith's resume, for his recommendation. It was his second meeting as superintendent.

After Balch supplied the necessary information between meetings, they said they felt more comfortable with the choice.

"After reviewing Vickie Smith's resume, I really think she's highly qualified," school board member Betty Hackett said. "I feel like she'll do a good job."

A Rock Creek resident and Brewer High School graduate, Smith was a math teacher for 16 years and is in her fourth year as math curriculum specialist with Huntsville City Schools. She was one of eight to apply for the position left vacant when Carolyn Ellinger retired in December.

"I think she's going to be a wonderful asset to our school system," Balch said. "She's got a lot of experience. She's worked with curriculum. She'll be able to give us a different perspective and bring an influx of new ideas."

Wallace was one of the board members unsure about her vote prior to the meeting, but she decided to support Smith after looking at her qualifications.

"She's qualified, and things are going to work out in other ways for some of the people I had in mind," Wallace said. "If she's qualified, who am I to say she doesn't deserve a second chance."

Smith ran against Balch for superintendent in last year's Republican primary but finished third and then supported Balch in the runoff and general election. Earwood said he was not concerned, however, about any politics involved in Balch's recommendation because she is qualified for the job.

Newly elected Kenneth Henson was the only school board member who voted against the Smith hiring. He would not, however, comment on his vote.

In other personnel news, the board hired George Hearring as a part-time special education teacher at Sparkman School.

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