- The Hoover City Council tonight unanimously chose Craig Kelley as the next member of the Hoover Board of Education.
Kelley is vice president at Dunkin-Lewis Inc., a sales and marketing agency for industrial companies, and a member of the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board.
He was chosen from among He will replace Paulette Pearson, now the school board president, and begin his five-year term in June.
Councilman Trey Lott, who made the motion to appoint Kelley, said he has all the attributes needed in a school board member and has been one of the most valuable members of the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board in the last 10 years.
"He's very disciplined. He studies everything carefully before he makes a decision," Lott said. "I think he'll be one of the best people we've had in a long time (on the school board)."
During interviews with school board candidates Thursday night, City Council members expressed much concern about the budget deficits being approved by the school board in recent years.
"I think he (Kelley) will look at their financial situation carefully and make good decisions about how the school system can resolve those issues," Lott said.
Kelley said tonight he is very excited about his appointment to the school board.
"I understand the responsibilities and will continue to learn what my responsibilities will be," he said.
However, Kelley said it would be unfair for him to comment a lot about the school board appointment and what he plans to do on the board until he has time to plug in better and ask more questions. It will take time to do that, he said.
"But I can tell you I won't waste time learning," he said. "We'll be insolvent if we keep on at the current rate we're going."
The school board also would be subject to takeover by the Alabama Department of Education before it reached insolvency, but "we're not going to get it to insolvency," he said.
On Thursday night, Kelley said the school board must make cuts in its budget but said he couldn't say exactly where cuts should be made.
Councilman Jack Natter noted on Thursday that Kelley, in his application, said the most important responsibility of the school board is to employ the most qualified superintendent. "Are you trying to tell us something?" Natter asked.
Kelley replied: "Something is broken. He is at the top. He will be the first one that has to answer." However, there are a lot of people who can bring meaningful solutions to the table, Kelley said.
Natter asked Kelley if he was saying Craig is not capable as superintendent. Kelley said he's not in a position to say that. However, if Craig is not getting the job done, the school board has to be willing to employ another person as superintendent, Kelley said.
"We can't continue to deficit-spend," Kelley said.
Kelley also told the City Council on Thursday that he is concerned about average ACT scores dropping at Hoover and Spain Park high schools.
"We've got to educate our children where they're ready to go, and I don't mean just college," he said. If they're not going to college, they need to be prepared for the workforce, he said.
Kelley has a bachelor's degree from Auburn University in business administration and has lived in Hoover 34 years, according to his school board application. Two of his children already have graduated from the Hoover school system, and his youngest is a senior at Hoover High School. He has coached youth basketball and baseball in Hoover.
In his application, Kelley said he applied for the school board seat because he would ike to be part of the operations and planning of the school system. He enjoys challenges and responsibility, he said in the application.
When asked about critical issues facing the board, he said Hoover must be prepared for cost-share changes and proration with state and federal government, as well as possible changes to its tax base. The school system must manage its variable revenue stream to continue to provide a safe and productive educational environment, and the school board must prioritize its needs and lobby the City Council and mayor for needed funds, he wrote in his application.
Kelley identified his strengths as his business experience and ability to understand problems and opportunities and to act in constructive manner. He has no patience for corruption and unsound outside influence and understands how to supervise and manage personnel in a constructive manner and make decisions that may not be popular, he said in his application. He also knows how to study laws and regulations and to apply them properly, he said.
Other applicants for the Hoover school board this year were Max Harbuck, Doug Hildreth, Guy Locker, Kadie Whatley Peters, Arnold Singer and Terry Turner.
This article was updated several times on April 7 with additional information.
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