WINSTON COUNTY - Windfall funding to the Winston County Board of Education is being used to offset the costs of creating three new positions at the central office, with the filling of those positions causing a complete turnover at schools in Meek and Lynn.
At the board’s regular session Tuesday, June 29, three new positions called district administrative directors were created at the central office in Double Springs. Personnel hired to fill these positions are Marla Murrah, who was Meek High School’s principal; Todd Tittle, who was Lynn High School’s principal and Jennifer Baker, who was Lynn Elementary’s principal.
Filling these positions meant numerous other positions had to be shuffled. The void left by Tittle was filled by Daniel Farris, who has been working as LHS assistant principal, coach and teacher.
Replacing Baker at LES will be Lynn native Brad Alsup, who will be making his first run as a system administrator.
The void created at MHS by the transfer of Murrah will be filled by Allan Henderson, who is being transferred from the principal position at Meek Elementary. Replacing Henderson at MES will be Wesley Harden, a Meek graduate who will be coming from Good Hope schools.
In an unrelated matter, Brian Wakefield, who has been assistant principal at Double Springs Middle Schools, was moved to that school’s principal position to replace the retiring Ben Aderholt.
Winston County Superintendent Greg Pendley noted the three central office positions were created to offset some deficits the system had been facing.
“I have restructured some things and I can’t tell you how proud I am that the board and I have worked so closely together,” Pendley said. “I feel very confident that we are going to see a very substantial change in the overall dynamics of our school system.”
Specifically addressing the newly created central office jobs, Pendley stated that the job descriptions have not been completely solidified.
Murrah will be working as director of curriculum for the high schools, while Baker will do the same job for the elementary schools, officials said.
“Curriculum was a deficit we had,” Pendley pointed out. “Our scores were decent, and we were at 86 on our report card, but I am not going to be satisfied until we have an A.”
The new central office positions will also help as job coaches, perform assessments, as well as work with federal programs. There will also be a countywide athletic director and someone overseeing maintenance districtwide, Pendley explained.
“We are renovating a lot of things presently, but we’re about to undertake a lot of building projects,” Pendley said.
Pendley, as of press time, was planning to sit down with Tittle, Murrah and Baker before these specific roles are assigned.
He commended each of them for the outstanding jobs they have done in their respective roles, citing he felt they brought a lot of qualifications to specific roles at the central office.
“All three of them got their schools to Blue Ribbon status,” Pendley added. “They have been in the traditional setting as far as schools, so they understand the dynamics of how that works.
“Their transition here (to the central office), I think will be very smooth,” Pendley added.
Part of the transitioning of duties at the central office has also included Shandy Porter, who will keep the same pay he had as federal programs coordinator, but he has been moved to a different capacity over textbooks and truancy, according to Pendley.
“I am bringing alternative school back,” said Pendley.
Payment plan for new positions
The shuffling of so many positions, which has been described by officials as being historical, will be payed for through a combination of funding, according to Pendley.
“It’s probably going to cost us to have three additional people (at the central office) about $20,000,” Pendley pointed out.
The superintendent explained by saying funding for the new positions is coming from a combination of sources, including what the school district receives for an additional job coach. Also, the school system is on its second round of ESSER, or Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief 2 funds, which are federal funds the school has received due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Winston County schools received approximately $2.3 million in round 2 ESSER funding, according to Pendley.
These funds can be used for personnel, but are primarily geared toward academic recovery, officials said.
The school system is also using at-risk funding for these transitions, Pendley stated.
At-risk funds are issued by the state and can be used for at-risk programs, alternative educational programs, school safety enhancement programs and programs geared toward preventing students from dropping out of school.
“It’s residual on what it’s costing the board,” Pendley stated. “Our money in Winston County (schools) is not where I want it to be, but it’s good...I don’t have to worry about making payroll next month.”
Tittle and Murrah’s salaries are not going to change when they transfer to the central office, but Baker’s salary will be adjusted upward by $5,000 based on her leaving the elementary school, Pendley said.
Salary schedules of personnel are based on experience. “The more experience you have, the more money you receive,” stated Pendley.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.