The Athens City Board of Education capped its superintendent search that began in early March and featured five interviews in seven days with a 5-2 decision during Wednesday’s special meeting at the Central Office.
Oxford High School principal William “Trey” Holladay, who was interviewed May 13, was chosen to lead the Athens school system after Dr. Orman Bridges announced Feb. 21 he would retire effective July 1 after 10 years as superintendent.
The search was described as “a whirlwind” and “a laborious process” by board president Russ Johnson during the meeting, and two board members commented on “sleepless nights” as they sifted through the candidates’ credentials, reviewed the interviews and checked references.
Choosing the city school leader
The seven-member board whittled the five-finalist field to their top three choices — Holladay, director of instruction Dr. Camille Wright of Madison City Schools and middle school principal Dr. Sherene Carpenter of Birmingham City Schools.
The board went through five rounds of voting, and both Wright and Carpenter received strong support. But Holladay emerged as the majority choice as Johnson, Beverly Malone, David McPherson, Jennifer Manville and James Lucas — who was part of the search to hire Bridges in 2003 — voted to negotiate a contract with Holladay.
Board members Chris Paysinger and Tim Green, who both favored Wright for her energetic personality, progressive educational philosophy and leadership capabilities, voted against the motion for Holladay. Paysinger’s top choices were Wright and Carpenter, and Green named Wright, Carpenter and Holladay as his top three.
Oxford to Athens
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. During Tuesday’s meeting, the board could approve his contract, which is expected to include moving expenses, a vehicle allowance, insurance payments and temporary housing reimbursement.
When reached for comment by phone Wednesday night, Holladay indicated the salary would not be a mitigating factor in contract negotiations. He expressed excitement for being chosen for the position, and said he looked forward to “serving and leading the Athens school system.”
Holladay, a 1987 Athens State College graduate, is also the director of alternative programs and athletics for Oxford City Schools. He has 26 years of experience as a teacher, coach, athletic director and administrator.
Holladay has taught history, physical education and driver’s education, and coached football, basketball, baseball, track and tennis. He also has been an elementary, middle school and high school principal.
Holladay plans to finish a doctoral degree by 2015. He has a master’s degree in education from West Alabama. He received an educational specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University and completed the Alabama Superintendent’s Academy at the University of Alabama.
“I describe myself as an assertive leader … I believe you have to serve before you can lead … I believe in accountability — give people jobs to do, let them do those jobs and hold them accountable,” said Holladay during his interview. “The only common thread over time is leadership, where I learned to grow as a person, and that is where I’ve tried to kind of make my mark.”