Lawrence County Schools hires Johnny Yates as new superintendent

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MOULTON, Ala. (WHNT) - The Lawrence County Board of Education selected a new school superintendent Monday night. His is a familiar face, having spent years in that school system.

He has served in a number of capacities, most recently as the interim superintendent.

District 3 Lawrence County School Board member Beth Vinson offered the motion. "I propose that we put Mr. Johnny Yates in that position." He was affirmed on a 4-to-1 voice vote.

Yates will fill the remainder of the term vacated in May by former Superintendent Heath Grimes, who resigned to become the Superintendent of Russellville City Schools. In making the motion, Vinson said it was important for the next superintendent to be familiar with the challenges this system faces.

"I believe that Mr. Yates knows more about our school system than any of our other candidates, and that's important," Vinson said.

Important because Lawrence County schools face a huge budget deficit brought about, in part, by the loss of the county's largest employer, International Paper. Various tax revenues the school system relies upon have been falling steadily since the plant's closing, until recently. In his first interview as superintendent, Yates says he will focus his efforts on those in the classroom.

"Even with limited resources we're going to look for ways we can provide for what our children need. We're going to refocus on what's happening in the classroom and try to give them, prepare them for a successful life," Yates said.

Yates has served as the interim superintendent since Grime's resignation June first. He says he has no plans to run for the office when this term expires in approximately 18 months.