Vote of confidence

Published 11:36 am Monday, July 11, 2011

WINDSOR – Two months seems to have made a big difference.

Tuesday night the Bertie County Board of Education unanimously extended the contract of Bertie County Schools Superintendent Dr. Debbie Harris-Rollins for an additional year.

The move was in sharp contrast to her hiring in April when the board split the vote to bring her in as the district’s top educational leader.

“I’m very pleased,” Dr. Harris-Rollins said. “It is very good that the leadership – the board and superintendent collectively – are moving forward together.”

That’s exactly what the two board members – Alton Parker and Rickey Freeman – said when asked about their decision.

Although neither said they were in favor of long-term contracts, they were each impressed with the work of the new superintendent.

“I wasn’t pleased with the long-term contract from the beginning,” Freeman said. “I haven’t changed my mind in that I’m against four-year contracts.

“I knew it (contract extension) was going to pass and I wanted to focus on getting school opened and dealing with state budget cuts,” he added. “This is no time to haggle over a contract.”

Freeman said he was also pleased with what he had seen from the superintendent thus far.

“Overall, we have a good working relationship,” he said. “She’s the superintendent and I’m a board member and we’re working together. We have discussed a lot of issues and sometimes we agree and sometimes we agree to disagree.”

He said her work had been good thus far.

“She has made some good decisions since she has been here and I think that she has the best interest of the children of Bertie County at heart, which is my main concern,” he said.

Parker agreed with Freeman’s thoughts on both issues.

“I’m not a fan of long-term contracts and I really wasn’t in favor of adding a year, but I knew it would pass,” Parker said.

“Having said that, however, I’ve been very impressed with the decisions she (Dr. Harris-Rollins) has made over the past two months,” he added. “She was brought in during a tough situation with the RIFs (Reductions in Force) and has made good decisions.”

Parker said he decided to support the motion because he supported the work of the superintendent.

“I do support what she has done and I support her vision for the future,” he closed.

The motion was made by board member Emma Johnson. Board of Education Chairwoman Gloria Lee and Vice Chair Pamela Chamblee, both of whom voted for Dr. Harris-Rollins in April, also supported the motion.