State Board Approves Contract For New Superintendent Michael Sentance

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Alabama’s new school superintendent Michael Sentance starts work Monday with annual salary and benefits of about $240,000. But the vote to approve his contract came with controversy over how the search was handled.

A majority of the board members, including Gov. Robert Bentley, favored the contract Thursday for Michael Sentance, a consultant and former secretary of education in Massachusetts. Sentance sat through the debate over the search process and his qualifications, then thanked the board for its vote.

I know there’s a great deal of work I have to do in this state to earn the respect and trust of the educators,” Sentence said. “My goal here is to raise the achievement of students in Alabama, so that whatever people think about Alabama, they know that their schools are good and improving.”

Board members Ella Bell and Jeff Newman questioned hiring Sentance because he withdrew his name from consideration in June and resubmitted it after the deadline for applications.

“Of all the hiring I’ve ever done, once you jump off the train, you’re off the train,” said Newman, a former local school superintendent. “Is it legal for us to do this?”

Gov. Bentley, who is board chairman by virtue of his position, said the board condoned the search process by going ahead and nominating Sentance at a meeting earlier this summer.

Sentence replaces Dr. Tommy Bice who resigned in March.