The Anniston Board of Education could have a broader pool of superintendent candidates than those looking to fill similar positions in other states.
Alabama is one of a dozen states that allows school chiefs to come from a field other than education.
"I liken a superintendent to the CEO of a large firm," said Richard Rice, director of the University of Alabama Superintendent's Academy. "You have to be knowledgeable in a number of areas and show leadership. Public education is not an easy task."
The UA academy began in 2002 as part of a lawsuit settlement involving two minority employees from the Talladega County and Phenix City school systems as a way to increase the diversity of superintendent candidates.
The academy brings 20 to 25 aspiring superintendents — mostly principals or central office administrators — for a series of three-day weekends each year.
Current or retired superintendents comprise most of the faculty. But Rice said he ensures experts from other areas are brought in as well.
They include financial consultants and communications specialists.
"Improving student achievement is what we're all about," he said. "We draw on the theoretical as well as the practical."