Superintendent’s contract debated

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2005

JACKSON – The fact that a superintendent has been hired didn’t hinder discussion here Monday night.

The Northampton County Board of Education held in-depth discussion about the contract of Dr. Kathi Gibson Monday evening when board member Charles Tyner questioned several items in the document.

Tyner asked the board if any document had been prepared to be sent to the Northampton County Commissioners requesting additional dollars to help pay for the superintendent’s salary. In a previous meeting, Tyner said the contract with Gibson called for an annual salary of $125,000 compared to the $97,000 paid to now retired superintendent James Pickens.

Board member Roland Whitted, who chairs the finance committee, said he didn’t think it would be necessary to ask the county for more money.

&uot;In my preliminary review of this contract compared to Mr. Pickens, I think the new superintendent will make less than the previous one,&uot; Whitted said.

Tyner said that his figures indicated differently.

He then insisted that he wanted to see several items in the contract closed.

&uot;I still see an open-ended contract,&uot; Tyner insisted. &uot;I know we have approved it, but now I want it closed.&uot;

Tyner said there was a call for a bonus to be paid to the superintendent, but no amount was listed in the contract.

Whitted responded there was $7,000 budgeted for a bonus for the superintendent and the board would not go beyond that.

&uot;That should be spelled out, I agree,&uot; Whitted said.

Tyner said he wanted a total of what would be paid to the superintendent. He said no final figures were given for professional development. Whitted said the budget called for $4,350 compared to an $8,000 allotment for Pickens.

The travel amount that was not specified in the contract, according to Tyner, but Whitted said the travel allowance was $8,000 just as it was in Pickens’ last contract.

Tyner also expressed concern over a line item in the contract that allowed the superintendent to be reimbursed for expenses as long as the board chair approved them.

&uot;What are the expenses? Is it for a new boat or car? I don’t know is all I’m saying,&uot; Tyner stressed.

Board chairwoman Catherine Moody said, &uot;If I am still the chair of this board, I won’t approve anything unless you have all seen it.&uot;

She said she further wanted to address the bonus to be paid to the superintendent.

&uot;Because the money is in the budget doesn’t mean the superintendent will get it,&uot; she said. &uot;This is a seven-member board and we will decide what occurs.&uot;

Tyner and board member Lafayette &uot;Lott&uot; Majette also questioned a section in the contract specified that the superintendent could not speak for the board without board approval, but allowed her to make public statements. They two said the

were contradictory.

Board attorney Rod Malone said the language was standard in all superintendent contracts. He said the language allowed the superintendent to make public statements when necessary, but did not allow her to speak for the board.

Tyner asked what recourse the board would have if the superintendent spoke on behalf of the board without permission.

&uot;If she made a statement on behalf of the board, she would be in breach of contract and would be subject to whatever remedy the board prescribed,&uot; Malone said. &uot;I would think it would depend on the statement because obviously I can envision a statement that would be so negligent as to warrant dismissal.&uot;

Tyner also questioned language in the contract allowing the superintendent to take &uot;immediate&uot; resignations and a section in which board members were forbidden from interfering in school business.

&uot;What happens to a board member who gets involved, because I’m going to be doing it,&uot; Tyner asked. &uot;Do they go to jail? If they do, you better start raising my bail money because I’m going to be involved.&uot;

Moody said the language merely said board members should direct problems to the superintendent and let her handle them through the proper chain of command and not to go to schools and direct problems to principals and teachers.

In closing the discussion, Moody said the contract was virtually the same one signed by the previous five superintendents, but that she appreciated Tyner refreshing everyone’s knowledge of the document.

The school board approved Gibson’s contract on May 31 by a 5-2 count with Tyner and Majette dissenting. Gibson, who currently serves Weldon City Schools as superintendent, signed the contract later in the week.