The School Board met last night and after the regular business of the Board was conducted the issue of the new director's contract was discussed.
There were several County Commissioners in the audience, Commissioner Greene, Pope, Pollard, Harwell, Jackson and Brown. I don't think there were any others but the seating in one area was blocked from the view where I sat.
The question was raised by Commissioner Pope as to why the meeting of the Negotiating Committee was not announced in the newspaper as required. Mrs Braden stated that the information was sent to the radio station and to the newspaper and that it was announced on the radio but failed to get in the paper. She stated that she accepted the responsibility for that situation. End of the matter for most present. The Board after considerable discussion finally voted to redo the meeting in-order to comply with state law and so that there would be no appearance of wrong doing. Board Members Story and Byrant voted against this action and then resigned in protest from the Negotiating Committee, this was later followed by Mr. Greene's resignation from the committee in order for the committee to have a completely fresh start. A copy of the State Open Meetings Law was asked for by a Board member and given by Commissioner Pope.
The second issue raised by Commissioner Pope was the matter of salary for the new Director, specifically why, since Dr. Webb had asked for a salary of $80,000.00 plus $6,000.00 for a car allowance and $1,000.00 for professional development, did the Committee insist that his salary be set at $94,000.00 plus the $6,000.00 for a car allowance and $1,000.00 for professional development?
The Committee had voted this increased salary 2 to 1 with Mr Greene casting the lone no vote.
Mr. Story and Mr Byrant both took defensive attitudes and angrily (you can watch the meeting on the PES channel and see the anger in their faces and words) stated at various times that the "money was in line with other counties", (but when asked which other counties had a first year Director the question went unanswered), "We thought he was worth it"; (the question was asked over and over as to why if he asked for a lesser amount did they insist on giving a higher amount).
It was stated and agreed to by all present that the matter had nothing to do with Dr. Webb, he had made a very generous offer, but that the problem was in a cash strapped county the amount of money the Committee had suggested was just not reasonable.
Finally it was suggested that the Board should become more familiar with the State Open Meetings Law, perhaps get a copy of the CTAS Manual used by Commissioners, since they had tried to hold secret ballots when voting for the director in the March meeting and now refused to accept the fact that adequate public notices must be given before the meeting can be legal. Mr Story even went so far as to state "we haven't been giving notices in the last five years why the big deal now".
When Mr Bryant angrily accused me of "assuming they were trying to do something illegal", I responded that I was assuming nothing only looking at the actions taken in the March meeting and the attitude displayed by some in this meeting, that they were the Board of Education and with an attitude of disregarding the law what kind of example was that setting? When Mr Byrant repeated that they had done nothing wrong, I stated that he seemed to be holding an ignorance of the law as justification for wrong behavior, he became enraged and the meeting was adjourned. Obviously Mr Byrant was still angry, claiming I had called him ignorant later as I explained that I had not used the term "ignorant" in a derogatory manner he refused to shake hands.
Ignorance - "Having a lack of knowledge, or awareness of"
As I tried to say to Mr Byrant the term has nothing to do with being stupid as he obviously interpreted it.