School Superintendent candidates participate in forum
Published 11:26 am Friday, October 21, 2022
By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor
The candidates for Chilton County Schools superintendent participated in a forum hosted by Piper Peach Radio at the Clanton campus of Jefferson State Community College on Oct. 20.
Candidates Corey Clements, Thorsby High School principal, and Ron Pinson, Chilton County High School principal, were asked several questions about their qualifications and their plans should they be elected in the Nov. 8 election.
Both candidates spoke of the good mentors they have had while working in education and the multiple family members that they have working in education.
Clements emphasized that he has always worked to improve Thorsby, both the school and the city, and has been successful in getting community support for projects at the school. He said community support needs to be embraced throughout the school system to save money on improvements.
Pinson emphasized the programs he has implemented at Chiton County High School to increase parental and community involvement. In addition to 23 years in education, he said his experience in the military gaining good leadership skills to overcome challenges and work towards a goal, and his time working in business gaining good budgeting experience equipped him for the superintendent position.
Both candidates talked about the experience they have overseeing a budget for their school. Pinson said the school system needs a dedicated grant writer and should establish an education foundation that creates grants specifically for Chilton County Schools teachers to apply for.
Other top concerns for Pinson were better support for teachers from the Board of Education and the superintendent, need for increased transparency, safety and addressing bullying concerns. When talking about safety, Pinson said two-way intercoms need to be available to all teachers. He said he plans on being in the schools more than any of his predecessors and will ensure the board has the information it needs before making a vote.
Both candidates talked about the importance of increasing morale for teachers.
“They need to feel that the superintendent is an advocate for them,” Clements said.
Pinson said providing regular professional development opportunities for teachers is a key to keeping good employees.
Clements said safety was “the number one priority.” Specific things he wanted to see were observations by Central Office to ensure the monthly safety drills are being done, updates to the lockdown/active shooter incident manual in every classroom and continued relationships with local law enforcement to have School Resource Officers in every school.
Pinson and Clements both said having SROs at the schools is a large deterrent for incidents.
When asked what he would do in his first 100 days in office, Pinson said he would have a third-party audit conducted of the school system to ensure that employees are being paid correctly and establish e-learning days for students not taking tests on required testing days. He said he would also re-implement the early release for seniors.
“There is no use keeping them there all day if they have collected all of their credits, and if they can graduate early, let them graduate early,” Pinson said.
Making sure roles are understood is one of the things on Clements list of first things he would do, if elected.
“The very first thing that your next elected superintendent has to do is to sit down with your board members and make sure everybody is in line with the role of both of those positions,” Clements said.
He said the state associations’ definitions for these roles need to be followed. He said as chief executive officer, the superintendent sets the agenda for board meetings and makes personnel recommendations and makes sure policies are followed.
“The role of the board members is to vote on recommendations that are made by the superintendent, work with him in creating policy,” Clements said.
If elected, Clements said he plans to meet on a regular basis with industry leaders to discuss employment opportunities, set up monthly field trips for the career prep classes and become a part of an Alabama Works partnership. He said he is committed to completing the Alabama Works training required to make a partnership possible. Similar partnerships in Tuscaloosa and Montgomery have created established opportunities that connect directly to jobs in the community.
Clements said the school system should create a group focused on leading the school system to a 2.5-point increase on the state report card each year. He said chronic absenteeism needs to be decreased and workforce readiness needs to be increased, emphasizing that “shared leadership with our principals” would be key to accomplishing this.
The election for school superintendent is just one election on the Nov. 8 ballot. A sample ballot is available at https://www.sos.alabama.gov/sites/default/files/sample-ballots/2022/gen/Chilton-Sample.pdf.