The Birmingham City Council has named Dr. Kelley Castlin-Gacutan as the new superintendent for Birmingham City Schools.
The selection comes after more than seven months of vetting possible candidates and polling the public on what qualities the next superintendent should possess.
Birmingham Board of Education president Randall Woodfin said that this decision was too important to get wrong and that is why this selection process has taken as long as it has.
“We wanted to make absolutely sure we got it right and that we did our due diligence,” Woodfin said, adding that the board unanimously agrees that the right decision has been made.
Castlin-Gacutan, a former interim superintendent for Bibb County Schools in Macon, Ga., will be the eighth superintendent in 20 years. She is expected to start no later than July 1, according to Woodfin.
Spencer Horn, who has served as the interim superintendent since January 1, 2015, after former superintendent Craig Witherspoon’s resignation took effect, was one of three finalists for the position.
Dr. Lisa Herring, a former deputy superintendent with Charleston County Schools in South Carolina, was the other final candidate.
Horn graciously thanked the board for allowing him the opportunity to serve at the helm of the school district. Horn had previously served as the director of career academies for Birmingham City Schools, a role that Woodfin said he will fall back into.
“His leadership is still very much needed,” Woodfin said of Horn.
During Tuesday’s BBOE meeting, board member April Williams indicated that she was dissatisfied with how portions of the superintendent search was handled.
“It was a very thorough process despite some dissatisfaction with the [consulting firm],” Williams said.
Williams was asked after the meeting for clarification, but she and the other board members declined to comment on the situation.
Also, during the meeting, board member Sandra Brown urged the public to focus on the positive developments that have been taking place within the school system.
“Sometimes you have to toot your own horn,” Brown said after several students regaled the board with an update from a recent speaking engagement that allowed several Birmingham students to speak in front of former Secretary of State, Condaleeza Rice.
“Everyone needs to spread the word about the positive things like this that students and teachers are able to accomplish here in Birmingham,” Brown said.
The hiring of Castlin-Gacutan will hopefully usher in fresh start for the Birmingham City Schools, mentioned several board members .
“We are in a transitional moment right now,” Woodfin said after the meeting. “This is a great moment for the school system in regards to the next steps we will be taking. I’m extremely proud of the process and the way the search committee handled everything.”
Brian Giattina, the search committee chair, said that he was encouraged by the way the board and the interim leadership handled the difficult situation following the departure of the previous superintendent.
“I am proud and ecstatic that we had such a hard decision to make,” Giattina said, referring to the three finalists for the superintendent position. “I am happy people who want to be here see the positive things going on.”
After the meeting Woodfin said that it is critical to the success of the entire school system that Castlin-Gacutan is allowed to “build her team” from the ground up. “It’s important that our CEO can pick her team and build on their strengths. Right now, she has a tremendous opportunity to do just that.”