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Contract process re-explained

We read Mr. Garrison’s letter in Saturday’s paper. It was half true. Half true is often the same as false.

True, a vote on the superintendent’s new contract was not on the Aug. 23 meeting agenda. But the executive session to discuss offering a five-year renewal contract was on the agenda. Make no mistake, that was the purpose of the executive session.

Mr. Garrison’s protest that the public uproar was a result of rumor-mongering is untrue. He claims that the board has merely been engaged in “basic discussions” of a contract. The truth is that Mr. Garrison prepared a full, detailed five-year contract to renew the superintendent beginning on Aug. 1, 2022. It provides for a substantial increase of his salary to $148,000 per year, up from $129,000, with annual 2% raises built in. The intent was to discuss this in executive session in August and then to publicly vote on it in September–i.e., ram it through before a new board takes office. That is what caused the uproar.

Mr. Garrison thinks we must have forgotten what happened in 2017 when the board did the same thing. In November of 2017, days before the election, the lame-duck board approved a four-year extension which took effect the following year. The incoming board was saddled with a long superintendent’s contract.

Doug Mallett ran for school board in 2017 vocally opposing this type of shenanigan. Now, he remains mute as the same process unfolds. He is not running again. Stacey Hall, another board member, has publicly pronounced, “I am not planning on pushing through a contract that has time before it expires–after I am off the board.” Hopefully, she is true to her word.

The insult of Mr. Garrison’s letter is to state that the incoming board members, who will be the majority, are incapable of reviewing the superintendent’s performance. He posits that only “the board members who have worked with the superintendent for the last 4 years… have the base knowledge.” (By the way, the Ohio Supreme Court has voided these types of contracts that saddle new incoming officials.)

Perhaps the voters are not satisfied with this current board.

The three whose terms are expiring are quitting their office.

Perhaps the parents, teachers, and taxpayers are not satisfied with the current direction. They want a say, and they intend to vote.

In January, the three new board members can work together with Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Garrison, both of whom will remain. These two incumbents can educate the three new members on their opinions gained through experience. But all five can also review outside data. Have our test scores improved? Do the teachers largely support the superintendent? Are parents satisfied? Does the superintendent deserve to remain? Or remain with a short or long contract? Does he get a raise, and if so, how much?

All of this can be achieved between Jan. 1 and March 1 of 2022. But allowing this lame-duck board to approve a contract in this calendar year smacks of back-room cronyism that regular folks hate.

Discuss all you want. Allow the incoming board to decide.

Ethan Vessels, John Lehman and Seth Miller are candidates for the Board of Education. Mark Duckworth is a member of the Board of Education.

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