County schools seek new leader

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2013

After several years of service to the Dallas County School System, Dr. Fannie McKenzie is stepping down as superintendent. William Minor, president of the Dallas County School Board, said while McKenzie is leaving the system on good terms, the board is actively seeking someone to replace her.

Tuesday, several members of the Dallas County School Board interviewed five candidates — four from the Dallas County School System and one from Selma City Schools. The candidates were chosen from eight applicants.

“We’re looking for someone who is a strong disciplinarian, strong in academia, strong in finance — and we have some good applicants who showed those qualities and attributes we’re looking for,” Minor said. “Obviously we haven’t made our selection yet, but we will meet later on in the week and decide.”

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Candidates from the Dallas County School System are Tonya Chestnut, Clarence Jackson, Zella Ford and Don Willingham. Zanetta Simmons-Ervin is the candidate from Selma City Schools.

Because the Alabama Board of Education recently listed several Dallas County schools as failing, Minor said the board is seeking a superintendent who can build upon the progress McKenzie made and make the school system better.

“We’re not going to make excuses. The fact is, our name is on the failing schools list,” Minor said. “We have to do a better job of identifying our problems and then correcting them.”

McKenzie is set to serve as superintendent until Nov. 1, although her original last day was scheduled for June 30. Minor said he hopes to announce the next superintendent at Thursday’s board meeting.