Interim superintendent named for Phenix City Schools. What’s next in search for leader?

Columbus
·4 min read

Darrell Seldon will be the interim superintendent of Phenix City Schools.

The Phenix City Board of Education unanimously approved Seldon’s appointment during a called meeting Thursday night.

Seldon has been the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction under PCS superintendent Randy Wilkes, who is scheduled to end his eight-year tenure June 30 to lead a new school system in Alabama.

During a called meeting June 7, the Orange Beach Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Wilkes to be the Gulf Coast resort city’s first superintendent.

After the PCBOE meeting, Seldon told the Ledger-Enquirer he accepted the offer because he has the experience to do the job. He mentioned 29 years as an educator, including 13 years in PCS, three years as an assistant superintendent, previously director of secondary and elementary curriculum, still director of federal programs and working alongside Wilkes to lead the school system’s progress.

Seldon said his focus will be on recovering the learning loss students have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to managing the school system’s capital projects.

“We have work to do,” he said.

Board member Florence Bellamy noted Seldon’s status as interim superintendent won’t prohibit him from being a candidate for the permanent position if he applies. And that’s what he plans to do, Seldon told the L-E.

Seldon praised Wilkes’ service to the school system.

“I have big shoes to fill,” he said, “but I’ve worked right along with him all this time, so we’ll continue to build on that foundation.”

Board president Yolaunda Daniel was pleased to see the board unanimously approve Seldom as interim superintendent.

“He’s worked in all capacities,” she told the L-E. “He’s been a principal. He’s been a director. … We felt like this will be a great transition for him. We will have some continuity in our school system. He’s knowledgeable and has experience.”

In a news release after the meeting, PCS provided background information about Seldon.

He is a native of Columbus. In 2019, he began his role as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction and system test coordinator. His other leadership roles in PCS have included assistant principal at Central High School, principal of Westview Elementary School, director of transportation, director of curriculum for kindergarten through seventh grade and director of curriculum for eighth through 12th grade. He also has been federal programs director and textbook adoption coordinator.

Before joining PCS, Seldon worked in Lee County as assistant principal at Wacoochee Junior High School and assistant principal at Smiths Station Intermediate School. He began his education career as a math teacher in Russell County.

Seldon earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with teacher certification from Alabama State University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Columbus State University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Valdosta State University. In 2016, he attended the Alabama Superintendents Academy, a collaborative program between the the Alabama State Department of Education and the University of Alabama.

Superintendent search

The PCBOE also approved a resolution that allows the board to hire an outside agency to conduct its superintendent search. But that vote wasn’t unanimous.

The Rev. Brady Baird and Elliott Patrick are the board members who opposed the motion in the 5-2 vote.

Board member Jonathan Taylor initially made a motion to hire the Alabama Association of School Boards to conduct the PCS superintendent search. But after Baird and Patrick expressed unspecified concerns about AASB, Taylor amended his motion to simply give the board the option of hiring any outside agency to conduct the search.

Baird said he prefers an in-house search, conducted by either the board’s attorney or the board members themselves. He said that approach would save the school system the money it would cost to hire an outside agency.

After the meeting Baird declined to specify the concerns he has about the possibility of AASB conducting the PCS superintendent search.

“I really don’t want to speak to that,” he told the L-E. “But I will say we’re in a good position. The board’s in a great place and is very capable to find the right superintendent.”