CULLMAN, Ala. – In a significant announcement at the Cullman County Republican Party breakfast this past Saturday, Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette officially declared his intention to run for election. Barnette was appointed to the role by the Cullman County School Board in 2016. Last November, Cullman County voters decided the superintendent position should be an elected one. The 2024 Primary Election will be held March 5.
“I intend to qualify to run for the position that I currently hold. I am an educator, not a politician, putting what’s best for kids at the forefront for the past 28 years,” stated Barnette.
Bringing with him a wealth of experience and dedication, Barnette, according to those who know him, is a steadfast advocate for education in the community.
Barnette is not a newcomer to the field of education. This year marks 28 years in the educational system, with his journey beginning at West Point High School where he served in various roles, including science teacher, coach and sponsor for the scholar’s bowl and science teams. Rising through the ranks, Barnette was principal of West Point Intermediate School when he was named superintendent in 2016. He is now celebrating his eighth year in the role.
He shared, “It brings me great joy to see my past students as good parents and leaders in the community. I do what I do because I love to see young people become successful.”
During his tenure, Barnette said, he’s witnessed and navigated through myriad challenges and changes within the education system, gaining insights into the complexities of managing finances, transportation and child nutrition for a large school district. Through strategic initiatives and restructuring, he said, the system has successfully turned deficits into surpluses, enhanced transportation options and improved safety and accessibility for students across the county.
Barnette has actively championed career tech and STEM learning, creating opportunities for students at all grade levels to engage in hands-on experiences and competitions. With an ambitious vision, he is aiming for a 100% graduation rate and ensuring that every student graduates with at least one college credit and one career tech credential or certification.
“Education is my mission field. I want to create even more opportunities for our students,” he said. “When we can reach these goals, our students can take on the world and truly be ready to reach any goal that they may set.”
Acknowledging the challenges of managing aging facilities, Barnette said he is excited about the progress made so far in upgrading technology and infrastructure across campuses. He emphasized that while there’s much to celebrate, the work is far from over.
In the spirit of open dialog and collaboration, he extended an invitation to voters, particularly those who will be participating for the first time, to actively engage with him and the school system. He emphasized the importance of community input and partnership in crafting an educational environment that not only responds to the immediate needs of students, but also prepares them for future success.
“I would like to encourage anyone that has recommendations, suggestions or would like to partner with our school system, to reach out to me. I am always open to hearing from the community,” he said.
Having dedicated nearly three decades to education, Barnette and his wife, Kristi, who is also a seasoned educator, are lifelong residents of Cullman County, deeply invested in the welfare and success of its students and families. They have witnessed their children attend and graduate from Cullman County Schools, participating actively in both school and church activities.
Reflecting on his journey, Barnette said, “Not only do we live in the best county and state, I believe we live in the greatest country in the world. On our worst days, we are still more blessed than most of the people around the world.”
While leading any school system can be fraught with challenges, and Barnette acknowledged that the journey has not always been smooth – he highlighted the initial challenges of managing aging facilities and grappling with technology upgrades – he said that through proactive planning, securing funds and diligent work, significant strides have been made in providing state-of-the-art facilities for students.
Barnette said the most rewarding aspect of his role is witnessing the success of young people. He shared, “The most rewarding part of my job is seeing young people succeed. We have developed a support system to help them overcome challenges and reach their goals.”
With humility and transparency, he acknowledged that perfection is unattainable, but commitment to doing right by students is non-negotiable.
“I make mistakes, but I always try to do what’s right by kids. I am extremely proud of our students, administration, faculty and staff,” he said.
Cullman County voters are encouraged to actively participate and cast their votes with the future of the county’s education system in mind. According to Barnette, his candidacy offers a promise of stability, continuity and a proven commitment to educational excellence. He said the community’s support in the upcoming elections is crucial in sustaining and furthering the ongoing initiatives and improvements within the Cullman County Schools.
In his closing remarks, Barnette said, “I hope the people of Cullman County will go to the polls and vote for me so that I can not only continue the great things that are currently happening in our school system, but work to create more opportunities for their children.”
The 2024 Primary Election will take place Tuesday, March 5, 2024. www.cullmancourts.org/elections.html
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