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Superintendent deadline set for Feb. 6

By Staff
Kim West
The Russellville City School Board of Education superintendent search committee has set a Feb. 6 deadline to name a replacement for Superintendent Dr. Wayne Ray, who will be retiring Dec. 19 after 43 1/2 years in the system.
Due to accrued vacation time, Ray's retirement will actually take effect April 1, 2009.
The committee, which is being chaired by board member Steve DeFoor, met Monday afternoon to finalize the deadline and discuss opening the position to a public search, which is not mandatory.
"The public is wanting us to see who's out there," he said. "We are asking (Don Cox) to fill Dr. Ray's leave as now."
DeFoor said the board wants to avoid obligating the school system to pay two superintendent salaries. The system is currently operating without a full month's payroll reserve as mandated by the state and will not receive its full state allocation for the second straight month.
"We want to try not to pay two superintendents at the same time," he said. "We would like for (Cox) to take the leadership role right now – we can't make any promises, but it would go a long way."
Cox is currently an administrative assistant to Ray and a former principal, assistant principal and football coach at Russellville High School. This spring he was inducted into the Alabama High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame as a coach and administrator.
According to the RCS board policy manual, the qualifications for superintendent include demonstrated knowledge of school finance, educational research and methods of research; three years of successful educational experience as a teacher, principal, supervisor or superintendent during five years immediately preceding his/her appointment or election; and an Alabama certificate in administration and supervision with a minimum of an Advanced Administrative certificate.
Cox, who meets all the written requirements and is considered a leading candidate to be the fifth superintendent in system history, said he would be willing to serve in an interim capacity, but not for the long term. It is possible that he might serve as acting superintendent for three to four months until the position was officially filled.
"I have some concerns because there has been a precedent set in the past in how (the system) deals with these situations, and I don't know if now is the right time to go into those," Cox said. "I'm concerned about the financial situation because someone is going to have sign on the dotted line and make decisions.
"I don't mind filling in for the short term, but I think the length of time is unreasonable. The board should know now if I'm the person right for the position."
In its regular meeting Nov. 20, the board approved the financial statement for October.
Last month the board took out a 30-day $200,000 loan, which has already been re-paid, to close out the 2007-08 fiscal year and meet its payroll after the state sent only 75 percent of its monthly allocation payment in October.
Russellville City Schools received the remaining 25 percent midway through last month, and the state has notified school systems statewide that the November allocation will also be less than 100 percent and again broken into two installments, including one that will be sent after payroll is due Dec. 1.
"We haven't been notified what percent – it will probably be lower than 75 percent, and the rest will be delayed," Ray said.
The RCS monthly payroll averages $1.45 million, according to Ray. Even if the state sends 75 percent of its allocation this month, the system will still be short 25 percent, or $280,000.
"We will probably get the (first payment) the last day of the month so the state can use every bit of sales tax for their payments," Ray said. "If it drops really low, we'll have to look at again, but I think we'll be able to cover it for November.
"There's a good possibility Gov. (Bob Riley) will declare proration the first week of December, and then the state can borrow money from the Rainy Day Fund to help the cash flow (to the school systems) for the time being."
In other business, the board:

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