The charter commission should have 10 members. But it presently only has nine since Chad Flincher resigned in March. (The charter law says vacancies will be filled within 60 days. But why pay attention to the law?)
Of the remaining nine members, five are serving terms that expired My 31, 2019. Two of these appointments are by Governor Ivey, two by Speaker McCutcheon and one by Senate Majority Leader Del Marsh. (The vacant Fincher slot also “belongs” to Marsh.)
All parties have now submitted their nominations to state superintendent Eric Mackey. According to the agenda for the August 8 state school board meeting, these will be voted on then. Since the final selection falls to the state school board, two names must be submitted for each commission seat. Even if an incumbent is re-nominated, someone else must also be proposed for this seat.
Since all members serve staggered two-year terms, five seats are up each year.
There will be at least three new members since Governor Ivey did not re-submit the names of Chairman Mac Buttram and member Charles Jackson. Instead, her recommendations for Buttram’s seat are Paul Morin of Birmingham and Mark Martin of Birmingham. I have known Morin for years. He serves as the state’s after-school programs coordinator for Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act. He probably knows more educators around the state than anyone I know.
I do not know Martin, who is executive director of Build Up Ensley, a community re-vitalization program. He was principal of a charter school in New Orleans. His name was also submitted by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth in May. However, Allison Haygood was selected instead.
Andre’ Harrison is a former superintendent for Elmore County. He is executive director for AdvancED, which accredits school systems throughout the state. I have known Andre for years. He is a good guy, but seems to me he has a conflict of interest because of his job.
Sydney Rains is executive director of the Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training and Employment in Mobile. I do not know him. But my good friend, former Mobile County superintendent Martha Peek, has worked with him on a number of ventures and gives him very high marks.
Senator Del Marsh has nominated one-time state house member Jamie Ison of Mobile and Hunter Oswalt of Fairhope to take Fincher’s seat. Ison works in real estate. I do not know her, but know of her. As with Rains, Martha Peek speaks well of her.
Oswalt is a young lady who owns Read-Write: The Learning Center in Daphne. I do not know her. This will be the third time she has been nominated. She was nominated by Speaker Mike Hubbard in 2016 and Governor Ivey in 2018.She worked for a charter school in Atlanta and had a relationship with Teach for America in Texas.
Speaker McCutcheon has re-nominated incumbents Tommy Ledbetter of Madison County and Melissa McInnis of Montgomery County. Both of them voted to approve the Woodland Prep application in May, 2018 and to give them a one-year extension on June 7. I do not know either and emails to them have not been answered.
McCutcheon nominated Morgan County teacher Kimblerly Terry along with Ledbetter and Montgomery business woman Marla Green, along with McInnis. I do not know either.
Marsh re-nominated Henry Nelson of Birmingham, who has been on the board from the outset.in 2015. Nelson voted to approve Woodland Prep. Marsh also nominated Steve Sipel of Birmingham, a businessman and founding board chairman of Legacy Prep charter.
Once again there is the glaring omission of representation for rural Alabama, More than 40 percent of all public school students attend rural schools, but Allison Haygood, who is a principal in Boaz, will be the only commission member from a rural location. This lack of understanding the circumstances of rural schools has had a huge role in the Woodland Prep charter disaster. Haygood is the only commission member who voted NO to giving Woodland Prep a one-year extension on June 7.
If you know any of these nominees and want to offer your input to state school board members, or simply want to give your thoughts on the charter commission, here are their email addresses:
District 1–Jackie Zeigler: firstname.lastname@example.org
District 2–Tracie West: Traciewest3@gmail.com
District 3–Stephanie Bell: email@example.com
District 4–Yvette Richardson: firstname.lastname@example.org
District 5–Ella Bell: email@example.com
District 6–Cynthia McCarty: firstname.lastname@example.org
District 7–Jeff Newman: email@example.com
District 8–Wayne Reynolds: firstname.lastname@example.org