INTERVIEW: New Jefferson County Schools Chief Craig Pouncey

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Jefferson County Schools just hired away the Alabama State Department of Education’s veteran Chief of Staff as its superintendent, for the highest salary of any superintendent in the state. WBHM’s Dan Carsen caught up with Craig Pouncey, the new leader of Alabama’s second-largest school district, on his first full day on the job. The former teacher and assistant principal says one reason for his move was to get away from politics and back to his roots:

Below is a subject index with approximate time pegs for the extended interview:

0:21 — The obvious question: Why did Pouncey come from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to Jefferson County Schools?

1:00 — Carsen asks if getting close to students will really be possible as a superintendent.

1:45 — Based on something in the ALSDE press release announcing Pouncey’s move, Carsen asks if Pouncey’s former position might be eliminated. 2:53 — Pouncey discusses things that are going right in Jefferson County Schools.

3:25 — Carsen asks about something going wrong in Jefferson County Schools. Pouncey says, though it’s not serious yet, the fiscal trend has been moving in the wrong direction.

5:08 — There are “holes” in what the state provides in terms of funding.

5:30 — Pouncey says it’s not so much his personal connections that will help JeffCo schools’ finances as his experience.

6:37 — As he wrote in this op-ed, Pouncey has two simple rules for school leaders, which are basically the same as what he expected from his students while he was a teacher.

7:09 — Carsen asks Pouncey why he thinks the Jefferson County Board of Education was willing to pay him the highest salary of any superintendent in the state.

8:06 — Carsen asks Pouncey how he feels about not just teachers and principals but superintendents being evaluated based on measures of student achievement including test scores and graduation rates.

8:55 — Some “honest” advice for education reformers.

9:11 — Carsen asks Pouncey how he will be evaluated.

9:37 — Is Pouncey nervous because his predecessor held the job for barely more than a year? (No, he’s not.)

10:00 — Carsen asks Pouncey whether — in contrast to some of the ambiguity previously faced by Birmingham Schools Superintendent Craig Witherspoon — he feels the JeffCo school board’s expectations of him are clear.

10:30 — Pouncey on community partnerships and some communities needing a “kick.”

10:55 — Will the Bold Goals Coalition play a role in JeffCo schools?



Dan’s education reporting can be found here.