Shane Barnette Named Superintendent of Cullman County Schools

Amy Leonard

CULLMAN – Shane Barnette, current principal of Cullman County's West Point Intermediate School, tonight was named the new superintendent of Cullman County Schools. The appointment was announced tonight at a special meeting of the Cullman County Commission on Education.

At 5:45 p.m., the Barnette family made their way into the meeting room, greeting friends along the way. Seemingly eager to get started, the members of the board were seated and ready to begin five minutes before the 6 p.m. start time.

Barnette was one of four finalists vying for the position. The three other candidates were Dr. Donald Snow, principal of Austin High School in the Decatur City School District, Dr. Elizabeth Swinford, consultant/superintendent of Tuscaloosa County Schools, and Dr. Rick Carter, director of virtual programs for the Athens City School District.

Barnette was the only finalist with direct ties to the school system and has cited the County’s need for consistency and emphasized the position would not be a stepping stone to ready him for greener pastures.

Beginning with a prayer by Mark Sanford of Cornerstone Church of the Nazarene, the Barnette family’s home church, the meeting lasted a mere ten minutes and hosted little discussion.

Nominated by Kenny Brockman of District 4, which covers the Hanceville schools, Barnette was seconded by Wendy Crider of District 5 in Cold Springs. Dr. Donald Snow was nominated by Chris Carter of District 2 in Fairview, but no second was received.

Crider thanked the four finalists, sharing, “I was very impressed with the conversations that I had with each one, the observations that were noted in my visits, and it makes me feel good to know that we’ve got some great hearted people out there from this system as well as from outside this system that have a heart for kids.

“It’s really tough being in this position because you see the hearts of those top four and great things that they’ve done in their systems and my prayer for them is that, God willing, that they will have the opportunity to be a superintendent in a system in God’s timing,” continued Crider. “It’s just great to know that we’ve got people who love children like that and want to make a difference in their lives and we’ve all got to continue to work together.”

No date was set for Barnette’s contract review before the meeting was adjourned, although it is expected to be next week at the earliest.

Barnette was clear last week during the public interviews that the Cullman County School System is where he plans to stay indefinitely, stating that “This is where my heart is. This is where I want to be. I believe our school system right now is in need of long-term stability and I think I can provide that. I bring stability but with gradual, strategic innovation.”

Barnette said he “felt like God was calling me to be an educator” and is currently attending Samford University to complete his doctorate. Last week, he said that if chosen for superintendent, he plans to “listen, listen, listen” to the needs of all of the schools and their students.

“Each day as an instructional leader and a principal I feel like I do everything I can for my teachers and my students to be the very best that they can be, to be the best leaders that they can be."

The County Schools superintendent seat was vacated by Dr. Craig Ross in November of last year. Interim Superintendent, Dr. Brandon Payne, will be leaving his role when Barnette comes on board. Payne, who was previously CCBOE’s assistant superintendent under Ross and longtime principal of Vinemont High School, has accepted a position with LEAN Frog in Huntsville.

For background, please see: