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Gulf Shores school board to offer Huntsville’s superintendent a new job

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- After a unanimous vote, the Gulf Shores school board extended an offer to Matt Akin, Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools, on Monday to lead the Gulf Shores City School System.

According to Huntsville City school board members, Akin contacted them to say he has received an offer from Gulf Shores, 'pending contract negotiations.' The board voted 5-0 in favor of Akin and no one was able to present any concerns in extending the offer said Kevin Corcoran, President of the Gulf Shores board of education.

Gulf Shores city officials said that the board of education voted Monday to give legal counsel the authority to negotiate a contract with Akin to become superintendent of their school system.

Akin was interviewed by the Gulf Shores school board last week as a lead candidate out of twenty-seven applicants. The school board has not publicly interviewed anyone else.

Corcoran said that Akin interviewed so well that the board decided they did not want to move forward with any other candidates and they are effectively suspending their search to see if they can reach a contractual agreement.

"I tried to dig a little bit-- who has a con? What are your concerns? And across the board, nobody had anything. As Councilman Dyken pointed out at our meeting, he checked all the boxes," Corcoran explained.

Akin will not be hired until an agreement is reached but Corcoran said that Akin sounded "excited" on the phone when he was told the news. Corcoran did say that is Akin accepts the position, he would have to take a pay cut.

According to the job posting, The Gulf Shores City Superintendent salary is negotiable, "based on the successful candidate’s experience and proven track record of success." The school system posted that the salary range is $130,000 to $185,000. "Fringe benefits including state retirement, health insurance, sick leave, annual leave, travel compensation, and professional learning opportunities will also be part of the superintendent’s contract," according to the posting.

The Huntsville City School board voted more than a year ago to pay Akin $195,000 per year, with other benefits including a $900 a month car allowance and moving expenses.

Gulf Shores is looking for a new superintendent to be in place by May or June 1.

Superintendent Akin released this statement through a school spokesman on Monday evening:

"This afternoon, the Gulf Shores Board of Education has notified me about their intention to offer the superintendent’s position. It is an honor to be selected and I look forward to reviewing the terms of the contract. It is an incredibly unique opportunity to be able to work with the board to develop a new school system from the ground up.  Everyone I’ve spoken to has been very supportive.
At the same time, I truly care about everyone in Huntsville, and I came to the district because I believe in the potential of the schools and the city. The foundation is in place to support greatness.  With the help of the teachers, administrators and the community, I believe that Huntsville City Schools can be a model school system for the country. All of us on the Huntsville City Schools team have worked to develop strategies for personalized instruction, new resources to support literacy and math, and drafting our Indicators of Future Success. We have also worked to reduce our spending while providing appropriate resources and developing a long-range plan for competitive pay for our teachers. I will work tirelessly with the board and staff to ensure Huntsville City Schools will have all the elements in place to start the 2018-2019 school year. "

Corcoran said of the board's decision during an interview Monday, "I love his longevity at Piedmont. I know it may seem contradictory with him only being in Huntsville a year. But the things he accomplished. The way he was able to improve academics."

He added of Akin, "We like his passion. He has high achievement and he is highly approachable. That's kind of a rare combination."

We asked Corcoran if Akin's short tenure with Huntsville plays into this at all, for him. He said, "I understand his position. I respect the fact that if he thinks it's not a great fit, instead of living through a contract without finding a great fit." He added that he thinks Huntsville is a great city. "We are grateful for this opportunity. I know some of your board members have been very gracious," he stated.

There are still negotiations going on as to whether Gulf Shores City Schools will have an 18-19 start date, or if they will need to wait for the following school year. Corcoran said they still want a superintendent quickly, but their urgency will depend on what the state superintendent decides.

"He has a decision to make," said Corcoran of State Superintendent Richardson. "If it's 2019, we can be a little more casual on [Akin's] start date, but not much."

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