Nov. 9 – Tracie Turrentine will become Morgan County’s first female school superintendent after officially winning the job on Tuesday and said she plans to address learning loss from the pandemic, introduce more students in dual-enrollment classes and to continue building a new Priceville Junior High and renovating Union Hill Elementary during his four-year tenure.
Also on Tuesday, Morgan County’s three school systems received a boost when voters approved a constitutional amendment that gave permanence to a local law directing most online sales tax revenue to schools.
Turrentine, 43, faced no opposition in the general election after winning the Republican primary in May with 52.2% of the vote. She will continue to serve as deputy superintendent until she takes office on January 1.
“I think it’s good to keep it simple, so right now what we want to focus on is safety, school culture and classroom instruction,” Turrentine said Tuesday.
She will succeed appointed Superintendent Robert Elliott, who did not run for a full term.
In the two contested countywide races, voters reelected District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark to a seventh term and District 2 Commissioner Randy Vest to a fourth term.
Turrentine has previously said she wants to bring a mix of traditional and technological education to Morgan County classrooms and said she is already working with her trustees to establish a strategic plan.
“We put together a plan of what we want to do pedagogically in the whole-group classroom and what we think it should look like in small groups,” Turrentine said. “We want to make sure we’re using technology and preparing kids for the job market, but also preparing them for college and careers.”
To address learning loss resulting from the pandemic, Turrentine said his district has hired a total of 17 responders with federal funds to work at each school in the district this school year.
“Also, with the Literacy Act, we already have reading specialists in all eight K-4 schools,” Turrentine said. “I want to consider adding instructional coaches to our high schools as well as math coaches.”
Turrentine said she would have more than 15 seniors in her district graduating next month due to attending dual-enrollment classes since they were freshmen.
“We had a lot of kids doing double-duty classes and also going to college so they would graduate by Christmas,” Turrentine said. “Most of our dual enrollment is through Calhoun Community College, but we’ve also worked with Wallace State (Community College) and the University of North Alabama.”
The new West Morgan High School is expected to be completed in the next school semester, and Turrentine said she plans to move career technology classes into the new building, such as welding, nursing and veterinary science. The district’s technology park is currently located at Brewer High School.
The district turned to the bond market to prepare for the construction of a new Priceville High School adjacent to Priceville High. He plans to use local money to add classrooms to Union Hill Elementary.
“We are replacing an existing older building (at Union Hill) with a new wing that will include 10 classrooms and a workroom,” Turrentine said. “It will be a $9 million project and Priceville Junior High will be a $30 million project and we hope to have it built in two or three years. It depends on the supply chain though.”
The district is also building a $9 million, 39,784 square foot athletic facility at Danville High School, and Turrentine said she also plans to have an athletic facility built at Falkville High School during her term. mandate.
Turrentine and her team introduced the Morgan County Schools Peer Counseling Program this year and said it was key to addressing school safety issues and student mental health.
Morgan County School Board Vice Chairman John Holley said he expects Turrentine to lead in a “conservative” manner, taking into account the district’s budget.
“It’s just about monitoring and managing the finances, but at the same time making sure we’re getting all the resources we can that teachers need to see their students’ progress,” said Holley, who has no not opposed to his re-election on Tuesday.
Morgan County schools improved this year in English and math skills compared to Alabama’s last comprehensive assessment program taken the previous spring. ELA proficiency was 47.34% and math proficiency 27.68%, compared to 42.57% in ELA last year and 18.54% in math.
“We’re going in the right direction with some of our scores and stuff…but we need to see improvements,” Holley said. “I think that’s what the board expects the superintendent to do.”
Elliott is paid $140,000 a year. Holley said the board would set Turrentine’s salary before his term begins. Elliott was named superintendent by the board in September 2020 after Bill Hopkins left the elected position to become superintendent of the school system in Fayetteville, Tennessee.
Turrentine was promoted to assistant superintendent in July after serving as principal of Eva School since 2020. She was vice principal of Priceville Junior High from 2016 to 2019.
Turrentine, who grew up in Morgan County, graduated from Samford University and was an educator for 18 years, previously teaching in the Tuscaloosa City School District for 12 years. She is married to Josh and they have two children. — Local endorsement
Voters on Tuesday approved an amendment that gives constitutional force to a local law that requires the Morgan County Commission to distribute most of the online sales tax revenue it receives from the state to county school systems, a smaller portion going to volunteer firefighters. Other county commissions in the state are able to retain the county’s share of sales tax revenue online.
In the past 12 months, according to state disbursement records, $3,114,440 from online sales taxes was passed on to the County Commission, 95% of which was then to be passed on to schools and volunteer firefighters. . — Commission races
Clark District 1 covers the northwest and north-central portions of the county, including Decatur, Trinity, and Priceville. He has served on the commission since 1998. He won more than 80% of the vote Tuesday in his race against Democrat Samuel T. King.
“We’re going to continue to do what we’ve been doing, trying to address the issues that come up in the county,” Clark said. “We try to keep roads and rights-of-way clear and also try to encourage not only residential growth, but industrial growth as well.”
Vest District covers much of the middle of the county, including Hartselle and Somerville. He got over 89% of the vote in his race against libertarian Jonny Letson.
“We hope people will see the work we’ve done with the commission and we certainly don’t take the trust people place in us lightly,” Vest said. “We want to continue the work that we’ve been able to do and continue to provide services and make sure we have a balanced budget to do those things.”
Other unopposed county candidates were Commission Chairman Ray Long, District Attorney Scott Anderson, Sheriff Ron Puckett, Coroner Jeff Chunn and School Board member Paul Holmes.
— [email protected] or 256-340-2438.