Mayor: Support schools, plan for future

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 29, 2010


Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson called on the community to support interim superintendent Ted Watson and to commit to supporting the system financially in the future.

Watson was named interim superintendent in an emergency board meeting Thursday night after the board voted to amend the contract of superintendent Dr. Beverly McAnulty, making her a data consultant through the end of her contract in August 2011.

The board gave no reason for the changes and did not discuss the changes before voting.

Johnson called a press conference Friday afternoon about the change in school leadership. More than 100 people attended.

“Ted Watson will serve as a driving force to unify our community behind our students, teachers and administrators,” Johnson said. “He will serve our students well by building coalitions with community leaders, businesses and city hall.”

Johnson said Andalusia has enjoyed a reputation for excellence in education for more than 100 years because the system’s founders committed to excellence.

“I’m not sure that we have made that same level of commitment in the recent past,” he said.

“Now it is our turn to ask ourselves, ‘What will we commit to our future. What place will we create?’ he said. “As we ask ourselves these questions, I encourage everyone to support this new leader. Rally around him and let him know that we are united in our efforts to rebuild.”

Johnson said Andalusians have “tough choices ahead.”

“We cannot sit back and wait on the federal or state government to fix our problems. We must stand together and commit our resources to our children,” he said.

Taxes will become a very important subject in building city schools, he said, adding that he and the city council will work with the school board to find a long-term solution, “not a Band-Aid to get us beyond the crisis we’re in.”

Andalusians have a sacred responsibility to examine “every aspect of our commitment to our schools, including our financial support,” he said.

Watson, who has worked in the city school system for 20 years, said he spent his first day as interim superintendent wrapping up business at Andalusia Middle School.

“I came here as a teacher and coach 20 years ago,” he said. “I’ve done every job you could possible do here. To have the opportunity to be superintendent of education is awesome.”

He said his first task will be to sit down with stakeholders – teachers, administrators and the community.

“We are a public school system and we want everybody to get on our side and work with us for the kids,’ he said.