Four interview for Alabaster BOE seat

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The Alabaster City Council will appoint or reappoint a member to the Alabaster Board of Education in late April after interviewing four finalists for the position on April 11.

City Council members interviewed incumbent School Board President Adam Moseley and candidates Margaret Dawson, Nick Kopp and Edward Merrell during separate 30-minute interviews at Alabaster City Hall.

Council members said they will rank each candidate and send their selections anonymously to City Manager Brian Binzer before making an appointment or reappointment during their April 24 meeting. The person chosen for the School Board seat will serve a five-year term ending in 2022.

Here’s what the candidates had to say, in the order they were interviewed:

Edward Merrell

Merrell is an attorney with the Merrell Law Firm, has been living in Alabaster for the past 12 years and said he soon will have a child attending Meadow View Elementary School. He said he decided to apply for the position in an effort to have a direct voice over how the school system develops in the future.

Merrell said children face challenges today they didn’t face in the past, and said the school system should aim to prepare students to meet those challenges before they graduate from high school.

“We can’t allow students to be stagnant in their education,” he said. “Teachers need to be held accountable, and they need to teach kids manners and ethics beyond what they learn from a textbook.”

He said he would work with the current School Board members to “move the system forward as a team,” and said the system’s biggest issue moving forward will be keeping up with the city’s growth. He said his job has prepared him to face the pressures of being in the public spotlight while serving on the School Board.

Adam Moseley

Moseley works in corporate communications at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, and has multiple children attending Alabaster schools. He has been serving on the School Board since its inception in 2012, and has been president since 2013.

Moseley said he is proud of the progress the School Board has seen over the past several years, and said the district’s accreditation report, which had higher scores than surrounding school systems, is one of the system’s biggest accomplishments.

“Everything we said we were going to do when we started the school system, we’ve done, from facility upgrades to test scores,” Moseley said.

Moseley said the school system has tripled enrollment in Advanced Placement classes, and as a result has placed a higher emphasis on professional development for teachers. He said the school system creates well-rounded students by having a wide range of academic and extracurricular offerings.

He said he works to hold the school superintendent accountable while working with him to serve the city’s children.

“We can’t do anything without the recommendation of the superintendent. That’s the way it’s set up by state law,” Moseley said. “You’ve got to work hand-in-hand with the superintendent. If you don’t, you won’t have an effective system.”

Margaret Dawson

Dawson is self-employed and said she is looking to take her civic involvement to the next level by serving on the Board of Education.

She said the biggest issues facing the school system are revenue, growth and public image.

“We are building a huge new high school, and we’ve got to ensure the revenue stream stays strong to support that,” Dawson said. “And we want to project a positive image for our community. The image is pretty good now, and I’d like to see it stay positive.”

Dawson said the city’s continued growth could place a strain on the schools, and said the school system should take steps now to ensure it is ready to handle more students in the future.

“It concerns me that there may not be enough in reserves if the growth picks up the pace,” Dawson said.

She said she disagrees with the cost of the city’s under-construction new high school.

“I don’t think education needs a mansion, but we’ve got it, and we will promote it and support it,” Dawson said. “Where do I see the school system five-to-10 years from now? I see incredible growth and financial issues as we grow, but I see it as positive growth for the school system.”

Nick Kopp

Kopp is a salesman for Clipper Magazine, said his passion for serving students, especially special-needs students, has grown through his involvement with Aaron’s Staff, which provides respite care ministries for special-needs individuals. He has one child in the Alabaster school system.

He said he was happy to “see pride back in the schools,” and said the system is attracting new residents to the area.

“We see more pride instilled in the community and the kids, and we’ve seen our city leadership ensuring we are taking care of our own schools rather than take a back seat to the county,” Kopp said.

Kopp said he disagrees with some actions of the school system, such as remodeling the current Larry Simmons Stadium and hiring several new athletic coaches, and said he would like to see the system’s state test math scores increase. He also said he would like to see more local businesses partnering with the school system.

“I think they put the cart before the horse with athletics when there were a lot of things that needed to be addressed in the classroom,” Kopp said. “I’m always going to choose academics first. After that, shoot for the moon with athletics and other extracurricular activities.”