Macon County Chronicle

School Board Agrees New Director Needs Clean Slate

The Macon County Board of Education met in regular session on December 9, 2010 and was shocked to learn of a few unauthorized promises made to area principals by the previous Director of Schools. “Mr. Hampton had agreed with all the principals that he would pay for one trip per grade up to $7 per child, and it’s my understanding, it was also for the bus driver and the gas,” Director of Schools Margaret Oldham explained to the board.

“We have received one trip (expense) from Central and it came to the amount of  $2,289.00, and of course one of the responsibilities of the board, is to approve the spending of money, and this never went before the board. So I need some direction as to whether to continue this. I know another field trip was taken, that hasn’t been turned in from Westside, so we know that one is coming,” she added.

“I talked with Mrs. Thompson at Central and as all of you are aware, a lot of the children can’t afford to go on field trips of this type. I really think that since he has promised this for the schools, for the rest of the year at least, we should allow the schools to get their trips in. And maybe, you might want to do something different the next school year.”

“We don’t have much choice,” Board Chairman Jimmy Cook replied. “It was not brought before the board, but it was not the principal’s fault,” Steve Walton asserted. “They were doing what they were told,” he said, adding, “Every kid needs to be treated the same.”

Board Member Billy Willmore made a motion, that the way the school trips were being handled at the present time would continue throughout the rest of this school year, and it was unanimously approved.

Mrs. Margaret Oldham then began to address another unapproved situation, asking that Red Boiling Springs Elementary Principal Michael Owens come to the front of the room and tell the board about one more promise Mr. Dan Hampton made without the board’s consent.

“Last Spring,” Michael Owens said, “Mr. Hampton asked us to write up all our non-certified personnel’s job descriptions. So when I did that, he told my secretary, which I only have one and all the other schools have two, that he might look in to paying her a little more because she has a lot more job duties. He called me saying, the only way he could give her a raise is to take over bookkeeping on the elementary end, just split the books (with the high school). So I asked her if she would want to do that and she said yes she would try. Me and Mr. Jones met with Mr. Hampton and we discussed me moving bookkeeping up to the elementary end. Well, as I preceded going through what all I needed, it was going to cost about $4,000. I didn’t have the money in the elementary to pay for it. So, I explained to Mr. Hampton that I could not do that because I didn’t have the money. And he told me that the Board would take care of me getting bookkeeping set up on my end. He told me to go ahead and proceed to do that.

“Here’s the problem,” Jimmy Cook chimed in, “there are two things I go by… don’t fix the things that are not broken and don’t mess with success.”

Cook explained, “It was not absolutely necessary that we have two bookkeepers at Red Boiling, it was working fine the way it was, wasn’t it?”

“This was his idea,” Owens answered. “And I know, he told you,” Jimmy said. “Me and Mr. Jones talked to him and made sure it wasn’t taking away from Levita, and he said “no, you need your books on your end because ya’ll are two different schools”.

“This was his idea, it wasn’t my idea, because it’s been hard work on us, and I would have just assumed to left it down there,” Owens added.

“I just hope we don’t make anymore changes,” Cook commented.

“I wasn’t going to do the bookkeeping if I was going to have to spend the money, and he told me that he would take care of it,” Owens replied.

“I know it was not your fault,” Cook said.

“I was just doing what I was told,” Owens added.

“I know, but we probably never should have done this to begin with. That’s $4,000 were going to have to pay you, or your going to be doing roadblocks,” Cook said.

“Well, we need to hear a motion to pay this,” Cook asked. “I make a motion that we go ahead and pay this,” Steve Walton replied. “Hampton committed us to doing it, and maybe that’s one reason he is not here tonight,” he added. The motion was approved.

“I would like to say something to all of the principals,” Walton requested of board chairman Mr. Cook. “We’re all getting some surprises. It’s not your fault, but if you have any more surprises, please let us know. Are there any more trips or office supplies that we are going to be held responsible for,” he asked?

There was one faculty member who spoke up and said that she had asked for some things to be paid for, and she never obtained her request, however the board said they would take care of that.

“Do I hear a motion that we have an audit performed,” Cook asked. “What are we going to audit,” one board member asked. “Everything,” Cook replied. “This way, Mrs. Oldham can begin new,” he added.

“It’s the only fair way to do Mrs. Oldham,” John Wheeley said, as he began to make the motion, explaining that anytime you change leaders, the new person needs to know what they have (ex. budget funds, etc.) to start out with… “A clean slate,” Wheeley added. “We’re finding some surprises, so maybe an audit would get all that flushed out,” Steve Walton agreed. “That way we don’t have a big surprise come up a year from now,” he added. After discussing the needed inspection, the motion was finally made to have an audit performed in the central office, namely the bookkeeping department, and was approved.

Before the meeting was concluded Cook also noted, “You need to know that the Director of Schools runs the school system. Mrs. Oldham is our Director of Schools and she is the one that has total control of all employees.”

He later explained, that in years past, the department heads and/or principals were in charge of moving, hiring, and firing of employees within the school system, however the board wanted it made known during this meeting, that Mrs. Margaret Oldham is now the only person who has the authority to make changes with employees inside each school.

In other business

The board approved the following proposals: A waiver from Cindy Gammons concerning ELL personnel. To post a special Ed position through December 17. A proposal from Principal Dawn Thompson to allow three teachers to attend a special Ed conference in Orlando. Approved and energy project from Siemens to make lighting and water conservation changes at each school in Macon County to save on future utility bills. Approved the second reading of policy 4.700 Testing Programs and 6.200 Attendance Policy. Approved the graduation participation of an exchange student. Approved an Archery Class to be conducted at Red Boiling Spring High School during P.E. Approved the purchase of two Chevy Impalas for the Drivers Education course. Approved a bid from TDS for trash disposal at RBS. Approved Interim Director of Schools Contract with Margaret Oldham. Approved a change to graduation dates – seniors do not have to attend school during the last week of the school year. RBSHS Graduation ceremony will be held on May 19 and the MCHS Graduation ceremony will be held on May 20. Approved purchase of special box to install ALC Security Cameras. Approved the Directors Report: Angela Fuqua – MCHS Custodian effective 11-16-10; Randy Carnahan – MCJHS Volunteer Baseball Coach 10-11 SY;  Autumn Jones – County-wide Interpreter effective 12-01-10; Mary Lynn Driver – Fairlane Cafeteria Manager effective 12-07-10; Danny Kempf – 5th & 6thth & 6th Grade Girls Basketball Coach effective 10-11 SY; Jeff Gregory – MCJHS Assistant Girls Basketball Coach and MCHS Assistant Girls Basketball Coach effective 10-11 SY; Tabitha Draper – Westside Part-Time Cook effective 11-15-10; Brittany Bradley – substitute; Ryan Carmichael and Tracy Strong – Substitute Bus Drivers, and resignation from Ann Collins – Fairlane Custodian effective 12-01-10. Grade Boys Basketball Coach effective 10-11 SY; Danny McCaleb – RBS 5