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QA with Scott Collier, Linden City Schools superintendent

Linden City Schools: small system makes big improvements

By KELLI WRIGHT/THE DEMOPOLIS TIMES

When you took the position as interim superintendent, what goals did you have in mind for the first semester for Linden City Schools?

Basically my goal was to complete some of the things the board (of education) had already put in place, like the technology initiative, the school uniforms, change to a block schedule and starting a band. Of course, we had to make some adjustments because of personnel reductions and things of that nature, so my goal was to make sure all those things worked and that everything falls into place. And I really think that it has. All of those items are working the way we expected them to be and even better. It’s been an adjustment for me being the principal and the interim superintendent. But the parents and students, they have been very cooperative.

What kinds of challenges do you think this school system faces?

We have limited resources. That’s the biggest problem. There are a lot of things we would like to be able to do, and we can’t necessarily do them. We can think outside the box and come up with other ways to do them, which we have been able to do by making some adjustments and having people take on more than one role. I guess the biggest thing in a small school system is the limited resources you might have. You have to be creative to try to get things done.

What are some of the positive things in the Linden City Schools?

The best part about our system is our people: our students, our parents and our staff. They are by far &045; you couldn’t ask for any better, as far as being cooperative and wanting to see good things happen and being able to do what it takes to do it, and that’s the best part about our system.

Do you have any other goals for the remainder of the school year?

We can’t lose focus on any of those things, like the technology initiative, so that we can meet our goals and make good use of the funds the board put in place. For the remainder of this year, the test scores are going to be crucially important. We’re going to make sure that whatever we do, that affects test scores. As Mr. (Tim) Thurman, said at the (board) meeting, the ACT scores are up, but we want to make sure all our kids do well on state testing. We are encouraged by some of the preliminary tests we’ve gotten back and we’ll have to keep focusing on that. I mentioned at the last board meeting about putting in a new drug testing policy. That’s something we want to go ahead and put in place so that next year we can feel sure all of our kids that represent Linden City School system are drug free. It will probably take a month or two more before we get that in place but we’ve started that goal.

Recently, you discussed applying for some grant funds for the school system. What kinds of programs or projects would those grant funds be for?

The grant I talked about specifically was some additional funding to address the gym at the high school. It has some foundational problems, cracks and things. That’s one of the things I’d like to say by the end of the year we have a plan and we’ll start working on that. They do use the gym right now. It has some bracing in place as a temporary measure, but we want to do something long-term. We still feel like it is safe but it is not a long term solution.

There are always things to be done, and we just have to find a way to pay for them. We are in pretty good shape as far as roofs go. We spent a lot of money on roofs over the last five or six years.

Is there anything in particular you are excited to see happen for the system?

As a whole, I’m excited about all the things we do. Not one particular thing, but all of them together. We’re going in a good direction as far as having a more complete program meeting more needs and better preparing our students to go into the work force or go to college. We are teaching algebra earlier now so that the students can have exposure to higher levels of math, it will give them another year to take upper level math that will help with ACT scores. Our curriculum changes, some changes we have made in coaching brought more life to our athletics. We had a successful football season. Basketball is at the point where we will anticipate going into the playoffs. I’m just excited about all the things we’ve been able to do. For being a small system, for all the things we’ve got going and the prospects for the future, I’m excited about all of it.