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Board elects Robert Elliott next Morgan superintendent

By Cassie Kuhn 

For the Enquirer  

The Morgan County Schools Board of Education didn’t have to look far to find its new superintendent, with five of seven board members voting to select Brewer High Principal Robert Elliott for the position Thursday evening. 

“This is home; this has always been my home,” Elliott said. “This is where I spent my entire life, my career, and I look forward to working with the board, the accounting office, the faculty and staff from all the schools and continuing to make Morgan County Schools as good as we can make it.” 

Board chairman John Holley said Elliott’s experience working in the district qualified him for the position. 

“I really didn’t know how this was going to shake out this evening, but I think Mr. Elliott’s done a fine job,” Holley said. He’s got 25 years of experience, pretty much, in the system. He knows the system, and he knows this county from one end to the other.”  

Elliott will serve out the remainder of former superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr.’s term, which runs to November 2022. Hopkins accepted a job as director of the Fayetteville, Tennessee, school system and was replaced July 1 by interim superintendent and former superintendent of Madison City Schools Dee Fowler. 

“We’ve had a lot of good public comment,” Holley said. “They gave us a lot of comments; they let the board know how they felt about (the superintendent selection).” 

Prior to serving as principal of Brewer High in southeast Morgan County, Elliott was a teacher and assistant principal at Priceville and Brewer high schools, as well as principal of Union Hill School for eight years. 

Elliott said he’s starting during a particularly challenging school year because of COVID-19. 

“It will continue to be (challenging), just because of all of the issues with COVID and everything we have going on,” Elliott said, “but we’re going to do the best we can and do what’s best for the kids.” 

District 1 board member Billy Rhodes and District 6 board member Tom Earwood abstained from the vote to select Elliott. Earwood had nominated Brad Stapler, career tech director for Arab City Schools and assistant principal at Arab High, for the position. 

In response to Rhodes’ abstention, Holley said, “I just would like to remind you that you were elected to represent the folks, and I hope that you took that into consideration.” 

Holley, Paul Holmes, Mike Tarpley, Adam Glenn and Jimmy Dobbs, for districts seven, four, three, two and five respectively, all voted to select Elliott. 

Elliott was selected from a pool of four finalists that also included Stapler, Cherie Humphries and Lee Willis. All but Stapler currently work in the school system, and he is a former employee. 

Originally the new superintendent was expected to begin work by Aug. 17, but the board decided in July to postpone the selection process out of concern that the first week of school would be more chaotic than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, interviews were moved to Aug. 18 and Aug. 20. 

Elliott’s starting salary will be $140,000 annually.