Update: Greenville City School System dead in water; Eiland’s response

Published 3:25 pm Sunday, March 13, 2022

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Eiland appeared on the Kyle and Dave Morning Show on Friday. The host of the show, Kyle Haynes, restated a few of McLendon’s words used the previous day.

“Some of the phrases; we’re not wanted, they don’t want us involved, they don’t want our help, and I wanted you to specifically respond to that,” Haynes said. Is the mayor right? Do you not want his help?”

Eiland respond using his Grandfather’s most famous saying. 

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“He said, ‘boy, I’m like an Airedale dog; I’m smarter than I look.’ As a leader of a school district who serves all children in an entire county, I would be foolish and not a very good leader if I snubbed my nose at the leader of the largest city in the county,” Eiland said. 

Eiland said after he took the superintendent position, he explained to McLendon that he did not want their relationship to be like the previous superintendent’s relationship with the city council. 

“I think we all have a common cause,” Eiland said. “There is no doubt in my mind that Mayor McLendon loves Greenville, Alabama. There is no doubt. He beams with it when he is out in public.”

Eiland said he shares that same passion, but for the whole of Butler County. 

“(McLendon’s statements) couldn’t be farther from the truth in regard to not wanting to work together,” Eiland said. “We met three times. To me, that is an indication that I am willing to sit down, talk and listen.”

According to Eiland, the Butler County School System also paid $300,000 a month along with the $800,000 paid by the city for the new Greenville High School building. There is around $15 million in work proposed for the area schools. Of that total, $6 million had to be borrowed. 

“We can’t complete every one of these projects to the point that would make me happy and that I would have so much pride in without assistance,” Eiland said. “Whether it be local assistance from the mayor or city council and merchants and leaders in the city or whether it be with a senator or representative in Montgomery.”

Haynes reminded Eiland that Thursday McLendon said, “They want our money, but they don’t want us involved.” Haynes asked Eiland what his interpretation of that statement is.

“I don’t know. Perhaps, I don’t understand the definition of involvement,” Eiland said. “Maybe that is it. The mayor clearly knows how to run a city. It has grown exponentially in regard to opportunities for people to come in and start a business and make money. We have grown academically. I know nothing about a municipality and running it and I admire anyone that can run it with ease and grace and productivity. What I do know is about school, about children, about educators and about processes.”

Eiland said McLendon asked recently if he could have a say in how money given was spent. Eiland said he explained that the Federal Government tells them where the money must be spent. He explained there is some wiggle room when budgeting. 

“My point is this, if you are willing to help financially why wouldn’t I say ‘Well mayor if you’re going to give a million dollars,’ hypothetically, why wouldn’t I ask ‘Hey mayor what is your idea of how that would be best spent.’ Am I going to accept it all? Maybe not because I know how it must be done legally and ethically. But to say I don’t want your help couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

Original article continues below:

Any hopes of a separate school system being formed for the City of Greenville were quashed this morning when Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon announced on the Kyle and Dave Morning Show that a city school system would not happen while he was mayor. 

The possible formation of a city school system for Greenville has been a hot button topic for many Butler County residents as of late. A public forum was held a few weeks ago on the subject, but turned into a controversial affair when residents were promised answers but were left with nothing more than a “how to” lesson on forming a school board.

 McLendon said during the radio program the possibility of a separate school system is “over and finished,” and he would do things differently had he the chance for a do over.

“I will tell you, (that meeting) is one of the most embarrassing times in the history of this town in the last 34 years,” McLendon said. “We are going to go back to taking care of the city of Greenville. The votes are not there to do a city school system from the council . We have made the decision to not talk about this anymore. It’s over.”

McLendon hinted that the money and help the county school system has been receiving from the city of Greenville would not be included in future budgets. He said the city has never turned down any request for help made by McKenzie or Georgiana schools prior to them being unwilling to work with the city on the school system. 

 “They don’t want us involved,” McLendon said. They don’t want to work with us, and that is ok. They want our money, but they don’t really want to work with us. We saw that that night. The main person that got up to talk early on was a person hired by the school system (referring to the county school board attorney). He got up there and that’s ok, those are the kind of things that happen; he has a right to get up there. We were called out, there was no way I was going to say anything because no matter what I said it wasn’t going to be the right thing.”

McLendon said he feels the Greenville City Council was attacked by the county school board. 

“Nobody’s intent was to control anything, I can assure you,” he said. “Over the last 15-20 years the city of Greenville has done everything a town, I think, our size can do to help the school system from the standpoint of paying $800,000 a year to the school system. Some years it was less than that…. That was the city putting money into a Butler County school system. We also were involved during that time of helping with a refinance of a bond issue that they thought was going to get $600,000, but ended up getting almost $3 million.” 

According to McLendon, Greenville has also covered the expenses of school resource officers for the high school and middle school, parades, and all types of maintenance needed by the schools. 

“We have been spending around $150,000 a year on those kind of things that are in the school because we want to have a good school system,” he said. 

Greenville stopped paying the $800,000 this year, giving the city a small break and a little savings, before the city begins payments of $300,000 for 13 years per a previous agreement. The $300,000 will be going to different schools according to McLendon. 

“When you figure it up, that is right at $4 million (the 13 year agreement at $300,000) that we would be doing. We already have done millions of dollars. Over $10 million dollars that (Greenville) have been spending over the last 15 years on all the things that we do (for the Butler County school system),” McLendon said. 

McLendon said it is not about him, but about the children.

“What I am saying to you is, we’ve been committed to education for more than one reason. Yes, we all love the kids; love the kids; everybody loves the kids,” he said. “We have been putting (money) in (schools) because we want to make a difference.”

Following the City School Forum, McLendon said he spoke with each council member except one about their thoughts and how they would vote. 

“The deal is, the opportunity and the chance of us finding five people that want to deal with something like (what happened at the forum) and to be put on that board to do what we need to do is nearly impossible now,” McLendon said. 

According to McLendon, he and Butler County School Superintendent Joseph Eiland met for two hours Wednesday discussing the school system and how to move forward. 

“He made some good points. I made some good points. But this is what I know, we are not wanted,” McLendon said. “We have been treated, it’s unbelievable how we were treated. I believe education is still important.”

The mayor said the council will focus on new items for the city of Greenville and the city school system will not be discussed in any manner going forward.

Butler County Superintendent Joseph Eiland did not have much to say about the mayor’s announcement immediately following the dismissal of a city school system.

“I am relieved that the proposal is seemingly abandoned and that we can move forward with our mission to serve students across Butler County.  I pray that every municipality in this great county will come along-side our students, staff, and school and system leaders to truly help us grow and excel. We are stronger together.” Eiland said.