published Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

New schools chief of DeKalb County, Ala., starts job

Hugh Taylor starts this week as superintendent of the DeKalb County, Ala., Board of Education.

One of Taylor's first orders of business at the Thursday board meeting will be finding a new principal for Ruhama Junior High School in Fort Payne, Ala., where Taylor worked as principal. Plainview School in Rainsville, Ala., also has a vacancy.

"Both schools need a principal so somebody can be in place to get everything going," school board Chairman Terry Wooten said.

DeKalb is fairly unusual in that the schools superintendent is an elected, partisan office.

Voters chose Taylor, a Republican, over another Republican candidate and three Democrats to replace Charles Warren, a Democrat who's retiring after 12 years as superintendent. Warren had a 37-year career as a school system employee.

"Not very many counties across the United States still elect superintendents -- but we still do," Wooten said.

Taylor won despite some voters' concerns that he sends his children to a private school: Cornerstone Christian Academy in Rainsville.

Wooten doesn't fault Taylor for that.

"When it comes to your children, you just do what you think is best for them," Wooten said. "If that's what he and his wife [think] is best, being a parent, that's what they're supposed to do."

School board Vice Chairman Harold Bobo said Taylor will receive $119,000 annually, which is the same salary as his predecessor.

Bobo expects Taylor will lay out some of his goals at Thursday night's board meeting.

"He will outline his approach, probably at that time," Bobo said.

Wooten doesn't expect any big changes right away.

"I don't expect any major changes right now, because we're in the middle of the school year," he said.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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