Florence Bellamy resigns from Phenix City school board

Personnel changes approved

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comApril 11, 2014 

Florence Bellamy, a trailblazing public education advocate, has resigned from the Phenix City Board of Education after 25 years of service.

Her current five-year term is up for reappointment this month, but she informed the Phenix City Council she doesn't want to be considered, Mayor Eddie Lowe confirmed Friday.

Asked why she resigned, Lowe said, "You need to talk to her about that."

Bellamy wasn't reached for comment.

Lowe served with Bellamy on the school board before he was elected mayor in 2012. "She has done a lot of great things and seen a lot of changes," he said in a phone interview.

Indeed, she was the board's first black and first female to serve as president. She also was the first Phenix City resident, third black and fifth woman to serve as the Alabama Association of School Boards president. She served as the AASB vice president and District 4 director as well.

"As a school board member and education leader, she had great prestige across the state and great recognition for her advocacy," AASB public relations director Denise Berkhalter said by phone from Montgomery. "She has really been one of those go-to people when it comes to speaking up and speaking up with a loud voice. I mean, she never shied away from bringing the conversation around and asking whether it was good for kids."

During the school board's called meeting Friday, interim superintendent Rod Hinton gestured toward the images honoring past system leaders and said, "I'd like to see her picture on that wall."

Board president Brad Baker added, "I agree."

The council's process to replace Bellamy will be different from previous administrations, Lowe said. Instead of making an outright appointment, the council will conduct interviews before deciding, he said.

"More than five" candidates already are scheduled for interviews, starting Monday, he said. Lowe welcomes anyone wanting to be considered or nominate someone to contact him or a councilor.

"I'm not saying anything was wrong with the other way," he said, "but this council is trying to raise the bar."

State law requires the council to appoint the new school board member by the end of this month, Lowe said.

Personnel changes

Also during Friday's called meeting, the school board approved Hinton's recommendations for the following personnel changes, effective next school year:

• Lakewood Elementary School assistant principal Sharon Elder will replace Lakewood Elementary principal Curtis Barber, who will be reassigned.

• Phenix City Intermediate School assistant principal Shuvon Ray will replace Phenix City Elementary School principal David Jones, who will be reassigned.

• The position of curriculum and instruction director filled by Lisa Coleman will be split into secondary and elementary levels. Coleman will be the secondary education director, and transportation supervisor Darrell Seldon, who is a former principal, will be the elementary education director. Hinton didn't have financial figures available, but he said the new position will be paid for with savings from the retirement of consultant and former assistant superintendent Cordelia Moffett and not using as many outside consultants.

• A new position called director of special services will oversee several areas: special education, accreditation, testing, strategic planning, board policy and compliance. Special education supervisor Lynn Herman, who is expected to retire in the middle of next school year, will report to the director, Hinton said. Money for that position will come the assistant superintendent job left vacant since the death of Mary Jane Riley last year, he said.

Hinton promised more personnel changes to come before next school year. His goal, he said, is to continue breaking down the system's "silos" to foster more collaboration among the staff.

"None of us is as smart as all of us," he said.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkRiceLE.

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