School Board names Adkins superintendent
Dr. Gregory Adkins, who was appointed as the interim superintendent last month, received a three-year contract as the superintendent during the Lee County School District board meeting Tuesday night.
The revised contract included employment for three years from the present date and an $185,000 base salary – $52,000 more than what he is currently making. The contract also includes a $725 monthly travel allowance, which was not included in the previous contract. It also allows termination without cause by the school board with a 30-day notice rather than five days. The annual cost of the contract is $258,000.
“This afternoon in the board meeting, we had an extensive conversation where every board member laid out different issues and different things that they felt as far as moving the district forward,” Board Member Jeanne Dozier said. “We have been lobbied by a lot of people over the last two weeks, three weeks, since Dr. Adkins has been appointed as a place holder.”
Dozier supported the good cause item because she said uncertainty is the worst thing in the world that anybody can experience.
“Our principals and our teachers out there, they are experiencing uncertainty. They do not know what is going to happen tomorrow. They do not know what is going to happen two weeks from now,” she said. “If he’s not the right man for the job, I am sitting here telling every one of you right now, I won’t have a problem to get rid of him. I’ve done it before.”
She said she believes in Adkins because every single issue she has sent to him has been dealt with within 48 hours.
“I have not had that much confidence in a leader in something like five years,” Dozier said.
Board Member Mary Fischer echoed Dozier by stating that they knew the district needed stability for a long time.
“I have been in this district for a long time. We have done national searches and we have hired superintendents from outside the area. People that did not know the community. People who did not understand our diverse county the size of it and the differences from one side of the county to the other,” Fischer said. “With Dr. Adkins we have that. He’s got the experience, the knowledge, he’s really smart.”
Board attorney Keith Martin read a comment from Board Chairman Cathleen O’Daniel Morgan, who was absent from both the briefing meeting Tuesday afternoon and the regular board meeting that night.
Morgan’s letter read that in “2011 a poor quality national search yielded a week candidate pool. Superintendent Burke was liked and respected from the board majority. His evaluations were based solely on the district’s superintendent assessment instrument. There was no search in 2013 when the board majority chose to select the next superintendent from the 2011 candidate pool.”
Martin continued reading Morgan’s letter stating that “Superintendent Dr. Graham was liked and respected by board majority at the time of her hire. Again there was no board expressed expectations for the superintendent. Graham’s expectations were self created at the direction of the board. When the board changed direction in its meeting on the 23rd, I became very concerned that some members were engaging in the same bait and switch tactic that led to Graham’s contract. Since I attribute the failure of the last superintendence to the absence of common goals and expectations of and for the governance team to rush and make decisions about the superintendent for the 2015-2016 without a workshop is a great concern to me.”
The letter also touched upon using such words as like and respect for Adkins, which were also used for Burke and Graham.
“‘Like’ is not a leadership descriptor. ‘Respect’ can be a leadership descriptor when it has the context,” Martin continued reading from the letter. “Internal candidates contaminate the candidate pool.”
Board Member Steve Teuber said that although he was not in the district from 2010 to 2016, in 2002 they hired the longest tenured superintendent.
Dr. James Browder, Teuber said, served for eight consecutive years in spite of what happened to the economy and the district. He said he improved the district, which became an A district for the first year in Lee County history.
“I am not saying that that superintendent was perfect, or that he made all the right decisions, but we always focused on children,” Teuber said. “He cared about the district; he cared about the people in the district, the families, and the students. I believe that we have a superintendent that qualifies. In 2010 when I left (Dr. Adkins) was my first choice for replacement for Dr. Browder. That has never wavered for me.”
He asked the community to support Adkins, so they can get back to educating the children of the district taking the focus away from the politics of the board and what is going on in the district.