Sentance makes organizational changes at AL Education Department - Montgomery Alabama news.

Sentance makes organizational changes at AL Education Department

The Alabama State School Board meets Wednesday. (Source: WSFA 12 News) The Alabama State School Board meets Wednesday. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Major overhauls could soon be coming to education in Alabama, but before that happens the state superintendent is overhauling how the Alabama State Department of Education works. 

Supt. Michael Sentance describes the management issues in the department as "profound" and the lack of procedures as "substantial". That's why he's making changes to the organizational structure of the department.

Some divisions are being combined, some people are getting promotions, and there's even a new office being created - the Office of School Improvement - which will have a major impact on schools across the state, especially Montgomery Public Schools.

By combining and streamlining some divisions, Sentance says, simple put, important questions about those offices will be easier to answer. 

"How do we judge whether it's succeeding? How do we judge whether it's done a good performance or not?" the superintendent asked.

But it was the announcement of a new office that caught the attention of the board. Dr. Jermall Wright has been hired by Sentance to serve as Manager of School Improvement.

Wright was under consideration to lead the MPS intervention, but an impressed Sentance saw him in a bigger role. He comes to Montgomery from Philadelphia and has overseen school turnarounds in Denver as well.

"I said 'Would you be interested in a larger challenge? Something where you'd be coming to Alabama but not just working in the capital city school district but taking on the larger challenges we face here in Alabama?'," Sentance explained of Wright.

The board, which raised concerns ranging from contracts to communication with Sentance during a special called meeting Tuesday, went into executive session. The board then proposed tabling Wright's hiring, but Sentance stated the measure needs to be discussed now because he's already offered Wright the job. A question of whether Sentance has the authority to hire or if the board has to vote or simply be notified of the hire was raised. The board's personnel lawyer confirmed he does have hiring authority.

Sentance says Dr. Wright will play a major role in the ongoing intervention in Montgomery Public Schools and any additional efforts in schools across the state.

The question of who will take on the challenges at MPS is still a work in progress.

"We are continuing to interview a number of people to be our CEO, our chief education officer within the district," Sentance explained. "And we've narrowed that down quite a bit. We should have a decision on that fairly soon." 

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