Neil Hyche steps into role as interim superintendent

Published 8:19 pm Friday, July 17, 2009

The new face in the superintendent’s position isn’t really a new face at all.

Dr. Neil P. Hyche is in the midst of serving as interim superintendent for the Demopolis City School System. Even though serving as interim superintendent is a new position for Hyche, his familiarity with the school system spans several years.

Hyche has served as an evaluator of superintendents for the Alabama State Board of Education since 1996.

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“I evaluated (former Demopolis superintendent) Dr. Wesley Hill and got to know the school system through him,” Hyche said. “I’ve always loved Demopolis. It was a natural thing for me to step in for a while [as superintendent].”

Hyche was involved in the administrative searches that ended in the hiring of former superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, former Demopolis High School principal Dr. Isaac Espy and current Westside Elementary School principal Connie Brown.

A native of Northport, Hyche served as superintendent of the Tuscaloosa County School system from 1986 to 1996, culminating a 40-year career in that school system.

“I’ve held every position, from bus driver to superintendent and everything in between,” Hyche said.

As the current interim superintendent, Hyche is focused on opening new facilities, thoroughly cleaning existing facilities and employing teachers and staff.

“Hiring is a top priority,” Hyche said, after citing the recent additions of several teachers and aides. “We have quite a few [positions] to go yet.”

Hyche also explained that due to the timing of contracts, the search for a full-time superintendent has not yet begun.

“Usually, movement starts around Spring Break because of contracts running out by July 1,” Hyche said. “We’ve already had a lot of inquiries because of the great reputation of the school system. Demopolis is well known for its academics and athletics. It has a good balance.”

Hyche said that balance must be a key quality in the new superintendent because of its existing role in the school system.

“We will find someone with a good balance because both academics and athletics are important,” Hyche said. “The [next] superintendent must be a good manager and maintain accountability. Achievement should be the No. 1 priority.”

According to Hyche, the standard goals of the school system should be lowering the dropout rate, raising the graduation rate and increasing the number of scholarships for graduating seniors. Hyche will continue to pursue these goals in addition to completing the daily tasks of a superintendent.

When the search for a permanent superintendent begins in full force, Hyche ensures that he and the school board will be “leaving no stone unturned” and that “all stakeholders will have a say in the decision.”

For now, Hyche is enjoying serving a community he deeply cares about.

“This has been like coming home,” he said. “The board has been so accomodating and the administrators and teachers in the school system have been so wonderful to work with. This is exactly what I expected in Demopolis. Everything in Demopolis is quality.”