Hoover City Council interviews school board applicants

By CASSANDRA MICKENS / Associate Editor

HOOVER — The Hoover City Council April 3 interviewed seven applicants for the Hoover Board of Education about their intentions to serve and their ideas to remedy the school system’s budget deficit.

An eighth applicant, Stephanie Schambeau, withdrew her name from consideration to fill the seat to be vacated by school board President Paulette Pearson.  The city council interviewed each of the seven applicants for about 20 minutes at the Hoover Municipal Center.

Applicants were asked how they would tackle the school system’s budget deficit. The school board last year approved a 2014 budget with $167 million in projected spending and $150 million in projected revenues, resulting in a $17 million deficit.

Applicant Craig Kelly said the school board must make budget cuts, but couldn’t say exactly where cuts should be made.  Applicant Max Harbuck noted that Hoover is not the only school system with budget problems, and the school board is faced with some tough decisions to make.

“We cannot continue along the same track,” Harbuck said.

Applicant Dough Hildreth said the school board must discern wants from needs, citing the installation of a carpool canopy at Riverchase Elementary School. “A carpool canopy might be nice, but it’s not a need,” Hildreth said. “That’s a want.”

Applicant Guy Locker said Hoover’s long-term growth potential is tied to school system. Locker would like to work with city officials and the school board to develop a long-term solution for school system budgeting.  “The future of Hoover is tied to its school system,” Locker said. “The city will not continue to thrive with an inferior school system.”

Applicant Terry Turner said his experience in managing more than $1 billion in assets for clients of his law firm would be an asset to the school board, but admitted it’s tough to make budget cuts and pinpoint new sources of revenue. “It’s going to be a tough time for the board and whoever you choose to serve on the board,” Turner said.

Applicant Arnold Singer was questioned about a past statement calling for Superintendent Andy Craig’s resignation.  When asked if Craig should resign, Singer answered no. Councilman Jack Natter questioned Singer about why he changed his mind. Singer said he’d made a “less than honorable statement.” “I guess I’d have to be put under hypnosis to answer why I did that,” Singer said.

Applicant Kadie Whatley Peters said from the outside looking in, it seems the school system’s financial plans are short sighted. Peters added she would need more information to make a more informed assessment.

The city council is expected to make an appointment at its April 7 regular meeting at 6 p.m.