What are BOE candidates’ visions for the system?

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Five candidates for a seat on the Alabaster Board of Education shared ideas ranging from improving the system’s offering for students with special needs to creating more ways for parents to get involved in schools during their interviews this week with the Alabaster City Council.

Council members held interview sessions on April 9 and 11, and interviewed a total of five applicants for the position: Nick Kopp, Larry Crawley, Casey Ray, Dr. John Myrick and Bob Hicks. Myrick currently holds the seat, and is seeking reappointment.

During the interview sessions, council members asked the candidates for their thoughts on the school system and how they would improve it if they were appointed to the School Board.

The council will appoint or reappoint a member to the BOE during its April 15 meeting, and the appointment will go into effect in June.

Here’s what each candidate said, in the order in which they were interviewed:

 

Nick Kopp

 

Kopp said he questioned the amount of money spent on the new Thompson High School, and said he thought some of the school’s new athletic facilities were redundant with offerings already existing in the city. He said he would have rather seen some of the funding directed toward other schools in the city, especially the elementary schools, and programs such as an industrial maintenance classroom at THS.

He said he was in favor of hiring more teachers and aides in the school system’s Exceptional Education classrooms to allow for breaks during the day, and advocated for expanding the school system’s pre-K program.

“The biggest asset I could offer is that I would be a voice that would be different than the other board members,” Kopp said. “I’ll always be respectful, but I’m going to do what is right for the kids every time.”

 

Larry Crawley

 

Crawley praised the “tremendous impact” the schools have had in the Alabaster community, and said he would always seek to make decisions after reviewing and considering all of the information on a topic.

He said the School Board’s primary responsibility is to enact a long-term master plan to guide the system’s growth, and said he would like to see further development of the school’s Exceptional Education offerings.

“There should be some sort of master plan in place, realizing that the longer out you look, the more guesswork is involved. But you’ve got to have some kind of idea of where you are going,” Crawley said. “I’m interested in giving back. I don’t have a personal agenda. I want to do this for the greater good.”

 

Casey Ray

 

Ray said he would like to see Alabaster continue to climb in the school rankings, and said the school system is the majority of the reason people have been moving to Alabaster over the past several years.

He said he would like to strengthen the school system’s Exceptional Education programs, and said he would like to establish a parent-school liaison at each school – especially schools serving younger children – to ensure parents are aware of happenings at the school and opportunities to get involved.

He said he was in favor of constructing the new high school, and said it “shows the system is committed to excellence, to growth and improvement.”

“I feel like it’s time for me to step off the sidelines and get involved in my community,” Ray said.

 

John Myrick

 

Myrick, a charter member of the School Board, said he would like to be reappointed to continue the progress the school system has made over the last several years. He said he is passionate about music and fine arts, and said he would like to continue to see the fine arts programs grow.

“Do I feel like I’m done with what I can do for the school system? No, that’s why I’m here tonight. There is more that I want to be a part of here,” Myrick said.

He said the school system has had significant financial expenditures over the last few years, and said the funding was necessary to upgrade the school system to make it competitive with some of the best in the state.

Myrick said he would like to strengthen the school system’s Exceptional Education offerings, and would like to focus on strengthening academic performance in younger grades.

 

Bob Hicks

 

Hicks praised where the city’s school system is today, and said he would be honored to be chosen to work alongside other board members to continue the progress. He said he would like to improve students’ knowledge about entering the skilled trades field after high school, and said he would be in favor of possibly directing more funding toward the lower grade levels and enacting programs aimed at getting more parents involved in the schools.

“I’d like to see our students have all of the benefits we used to mope about, because other places had it and we didn’t,” Hicks said. “Anyone who thinks these kids are our future aren’t paying attention, because they are truly the present of our city.”