Updated ; Posted
The Alabama Board of Education named Eric Mackey as the new state superintendent of education today. Mackey received five votes out of nine. He will start his new job May 14.
His contract will be negotiated and voted on at the May 10 regular board meeting.
Mackey is well-known to board members, having served as the executive director of the School Superintendents of Alabama since 2011. The SSA advocates on behalf of schools and school superintendents in the legislature and is the professional organization for superintendents and their leadership teams.
Mackey, 48, started as a high school physics teacher in Calhoun County in 1993, rising to superintendent of Jacksonville City Schools where he served for eight years prior to working for SSA.
During his interview, Mackey told board members he hadn’t originally considered applying for the job, but hearing the board discuss at their December meeting the need to hire a superintendent that will stay for four or five years changed his mind.
“If you want somebody for a couple of years, I’m not your person,” Mackey said. “We need some long-term stability, and I want to do it for the long term.”
The board’s last hire, former Massachusetts Education Commissioner Michael Sentance, lasted barely a year before resigning days ahead of an expected board vote to fire him.
Board members interviewed two other candidates: Hoover City Schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy and Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Craig Pouncey. Each interview lasted about an hour.
Director of Communications Michael Sibley asked each candidate the same nine questions, covering everything from academic standards to how to ensure schools have adequate funding.
They were originally expecting to interview four finalists, but former Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott withdrew his application Friday morning due to travel problems, according to national search firm Chairman Gary Ray.
Board members made no remarks during interviews and there was no public discussion about any of the candidates. Board members voted by ballot after interviews were finished.
Board members voting for Mackey include: Gov. Kay Ivey, Mary Scott Hunter, Cynthia McCarty, Jeff Newman, and Betty Peters.
Pouncey received votes from Stephanie Bell, Ella Bell, Yvette Richardson, and Jackie Zeigler.
Murphy, the only female finalist, received no votes.
Prior to the vote to accept the ballot totals, Ella Bell lodged her objection to Hunter’s being allowed to vote since a lawsuit where Pouncey is suing Hunter for defamation hasn’t yet gone to trial.
“It is known that Mary Scott [Hunter] and Craig Pouncey are in the midst of a dilemma right now,” she said.
Calling Hunter “prejudiced” against Pouncey, Bell asked how it was possible for Hunter to vote.
Board members did not respond to Bell’s question, instead voting to accept the ballot count and naming Mackey as superintendent.
Board Vice President Stephanie Bell, R-Montgomery, said after the meeting she was pleased with the search process, crediting Ray and Associates with bringing quality candidates forward and thoroughly vetting candidates.
The Alabama Education Association sent out this statement after the vote:
“AEA congratulates Dr. Eric Mackey, the new Alabama State Superintendent of Education. Dr. Mackey brings a wealth of education experience and knowledge to the position and we look forward to working with him to move Alabama schools forward. “We’re excited to have someone so familiar with education in Alabama back in leadership. Alabama students and educators will greatly benefit from his guidance,” said AEA President Sherry Tucker.
East AlabamaWorks is pleased with the announcement of Dr. Eric Mackey as @AlabamaDeptofEd State Sup. of Ed. Dr. Mackey has deep roots in East AL a teacher, principal and superintendent.We look forward to seeing Dr. Mackey move the state forward with job-ready graduates. @egmackey https://twitter.com/aldotcom/status/987417315590529027 …
Well, congrats to @egmackey for the appointment to @AlabamaDeptofEd superintendent position. He’s done a great job leading SSA and he’s going to be a rock star . @alabamaschoolpr@aldotcom
JOIN THE MOVEMENT #iBELIEVE