Nancy Horton’s office was lined with cardboard boxes Wednesday in preparation for her move out of the second floor of the Cullman County Office Building to make way for Superintendent-elect Hank Allen, who will take office in January.

Horton said she isn’t bitter about leaving her role as superintendent of Cullman County Schools as she prepares to enter another phase of her career in education, which she said could include work at a college’s school of education, or as an administrator of another school system. On a scale of 1-10, with one being the least stressful and 10 being the most stressful, she said she would give the job of superintendent a 10.

“The superintendent’s job is extremely stressful,” she said. “You are on call 24 hours a day, and decisions that you make affect so many lives. You must consider the individual, but keep a focus on the whole concept of what’s best for Cullman County Schools.”

Horton said she didn’t always want to become a superintendent. She originally planned to educate teachers as a dean of a university’s school of education where she would help better prepare teachers for the “real world classroom.” She has 33 years experience in education, including years spent as a science, chemistry and biology teacher. She taught at Wallace State Community College for several years as an adjunct instructor and has been a guidance counselor, high school teacher and middle school teacher, which she said gives her a basic understanding of different areas in education, and a full resume of qualifications for her next job.

“I’m certainly not ready to retire, and I intend to pursue working in college, in the school of education administration, and I certainly would not close the door to working with other school systems,” she said.

Horton said one accomplishment she is most proud of as superintendent is increasing the school system’s fund balance for three consecutive years during a time of rising utility and fuel costs, two state-mandated pay increases for personnel and unexpected emergency costs including a $1.2 million mold remediation at Cold Springs High School and mold remediation at Parkside, Good Hope Primary School and West Point third grade. Other administrative costs totaled less than 2.5 percent of the total budget — one of the five lowest percentages in Alabama, though the school system is one of the larger school systems in the state with more than 10,000 students, Horton said.

During her term, Horton said she cut costs by not replacing two assistant superintendents after they retired, and by not replacing one Central Office supervisor after retirement. She said she also continued to drive the previous superintendent’s vehicle, and accepted a $3,000 cut in pay from the former superintendent’s salary.

Horton said she is leaving her position as superintendent of Cullman County Schools with plans in place for upgrades at Holly Pond Elementary, Vinemont High School and Cold Springs Elementary. Wiring, lighting, new metal roofs and replacement of old window unit air-conditioners are needed at the schools, and the Governor and Legislature have promised to release funds this year for capital projects, Horton said.

In addition, the recently approved 10-mil bill will give county schools at least $1.5 million more in local fund money, enabling future administrators and board members to focus more on needed improvements, Horton said. In the past, the money was mandated for salaries and operating expenses, she said.

Horton said during her term, she had an open-door policy in dealing with problems faced by parents, staff and the community, and is fortunate to have worked with a School Board who spent money wisely and conservatively.

“They and I always tried to make every decision based on how it affected our students,” she said.

Before she was elected as Cullman County Schools superintendent, Horton was a guidance counselor at Hanceville Elementary School and a secondary Science teacher at Hanceville schools. She has experience in administration, guidance, Chemistry, Biology, Advanced Placement Biology, Health, Physical Science and junior high Science.

Horton spent about 13 years in college, receiving a Bachelors degree in Secondary Education from St. Bernard College and Cullman College, a Masters degree in Secondary Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Guidance and Counseling Certification from Alabama State University, certification in K-12 School Administration from Jacksonville State University and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama.

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