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Board of education announces finalists for superintendent candidacy

The Butler County Board of Education announced during a special meeting Monday that it has narrowed a list of superintendent candidates to just four.

Jennifer Burt, director of Career and Technical Education in the Butler County School System; Reginald Eggleston, assistant superintendent of Mobile County Public Schools; Joseph C. Eiland, education specialist with the Alabama Department of Education and John Strycker, superintendent of schools at Algonac Community Schools in Algonac, Mich., were named finalists from a list of 26 applicants.

The board entered into an executive session that lasted for roughly an hour before announcing the four finalists Monday evening. 

“We looked for candidates that we thought could best lead our system,” said Butler County Board of Education president Michael Nimmer.

Burt has served as director of Career and Technical Education here in the Butler County School System for the past four years.

Burt, alongside career coach Otis Grayson, also spearheads the Career Academy program, which offers real-world learning workforce prep for the county’s graduating high school students.  The Career Academy earned praise from Alabama State Department of Education superintendent Tommy Bice during a visit to Greenville High School in 2016.

She also served the school system in other capacities, including stints as assistant principal of Georgiana School and Greenville Middle School.

Eggleston has served as assistant superintendent of Mobile County Public Schools since 2014, where he was responsible for supervising and evaluating principals in 29 schools, as well as overseeing the implementation and enforcement of all state and federal statutes and programs relating to schools. Prior to that, he served for eight years as assistant superintendent of the Division of Federal and Special Programs, in which he was responsible for a number of grant programs as well as, migrant, homeless and parenting programs throughout the district.

Eggleston also served as director of special education of the Butler County School System from 2005-2006, and as administrative assistant for student services from 2006-2007. He considers the implementation of the Gifted Education program in Butler County one of his major career accomplishments.

Eiland has served as an education specialist with the Alabama Department of Education for five years. Prior to that, he served as principal of Highland Home School from 2005-2012.

Like Burt and Eggleston, Eiland also has ties to the Butler County community as he served for four years as special education coordinator of the Butler County School System between 2002-2005.

Eiland cites the creation and implementation of the first demonstration site for co-teaching at Greenville High School in the southern sector of the state, as well as honors as the highest-performing school for four consecutive years at Highland Home School, as his major career accomplishments.

Strycker has served as superintendent of Algonac Community Schools in Algonac, Mich., since 2014. Previously, he also served as superintendent of New Lothrop Area Public Schools in New Lothrop, Mich., from 2005-2014.

Strycker was named Citizen of the Year in his first year of leadership at Algonac Community Schools, where he led a school consolidation effort to reduce an estimated 15 percent of the district’s expenditures while stemming the loss of students to other school districts.

During his decade-long tenure at New Lothrop Area Public Schools, he led a drive to garner voter approval for an important bond issue with a tax increase of 7.17 mills ($7.17 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation), leading to one of the highest approval ratings in the state with 76 percent voting yes.

The board also announced Monday that finalists will be interviewed on Saturday, Feb. 25 beginning at 9 a.m. 

Interviews are open to the public, and Nimmer added that the board encourages the public’s attendance.

Nimmer said the finalists will have an opportunity to begin with an opening statement, followed by a question-and-answer platform between the board and the candidate.  The finalists will end with a closing statement.

“This is a very important decision, and our goal is to find the best person for our school system and our community,” Nimmer said.

“Interviews will be held Saturday, if possible. And given that all board members are in agreement, we hope to make a decision that afternoon.”