By Kim West
On the heels of Monday’s fifth and final interview to replace retiring Dr. Orman Bridges, the Athens City Board of Education voted 5-2 Wednesday night to hire William “Trey” Holladay as the school system’s superintendent.
Holladay, who graduated in 1987 from Athens State University when it was known as Athens State College, is the principal of Oxford High School and the director of alternative programs and athletics for Oxford City Schools. He has 26 years of experience as a teacher, coach and administrator.
The new superintendent’s compensation package could include temporary housing reimbursement, moving expenses, insurance payments and a vehicle allowance. The salary will be negotiated by the school board and could be approved at the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 28.
Bridges, who succeeded James Irby in 2003, earned about $118,000 annually. He has been an educator for 41 years and will officially retire July 1, after 10 years at the helm of the Athens system.
Holladay’s Oxford City Schools system salary is $120,000, and the board discussed paying him 5 percent more than his current annual pay, which would be $126,000 annually. The board did not make any formal decisions regarding the contract, which must be approved by both Holladay and the school board.
“It’s exciting to think about moving to Athens because it’s such a great school system, and I’m an Athens State grad. I met my wife there when we were finishing college. It’s exciting to return to where we started, and I hope to end my career (in Athens),” said Holladay when reached by phone Wednesday night. “We’ll discuss (the contract) and see where we’re at, but money is not my top concern. This is a fine situation, and it’s never been about the money for me. It’s about putting the good Lord and my family first, and I’m excited about getting the opportunity to serve and lead the Athens school system.”
The seven-member school board made its decision after interviewing five candidates from May 13 to May 20, including a 90-minute interview with the final candidate, Dr. Sherene Carpenter, on Monday night. Carpenter is the principal of Martha Gaskins Middle School in the Birmingham city school system.
The other candidates were Dr. Camille Wright, director of instruction for Madison City Schools; Allen Martin, assistant superintendent of Baldwin (Ga.) County Schools; and Dr. Matt Hurt, director of curriculum and instruction for Wise County (Va.) Public Schools.
The board discussed the merits of the top three candidates — Carpenter, Wright and Holladay — and went through five rounds of voting before deciding to vote on Holladay.
School board president Russ Johnson, David McPherson, Jennifer Manville, Beverly Malone and James Lucas voted yes to select Holladay, while Tim Green and Chris Paysinger voted against the motion.
Green and Paysinger each favored Wright in the previous rounds of voting.
Holladay, who is married to Deborah Irby Holladay and has a 20-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter, was considered this spring for the Sylacauga job. He also was a finalist in 2010 for the Oxford City Schools superintendent vacancy.
Wright is also among four finalists for the Hartselle superintendent vacancy, and an Athens candidate is in the running for a superintendent opening in Georgia. A sixth finalist for the Athens superintendent search, Michael “Todd” Freeman withdrew from consideration after accepting the superintendent position in Sylacauga.