The Washington County Board of Education approved offering Director of Schools Ron Dykes a new, four-year contract at its June 10 meeting, but only after wrangling over language and the length of the agreement.
As part of the process, each board member submitted an evaluation of Dykes to state officials. A total report was created and sent back to the board, which reviewed the final copy before beginning discussions on the contract. The board did state throughout the contract discussions that Dykes job was never in question, merely the length of time and the proper method of determining a contract option.
Board member Eric Barnes offered up the first motion to extend Dykes contract as it is written by two years, which was seconded by Dallas Hardin.
Dykes current contract has one year remaining, so Barnes motion would have given him in total three more years at the helm of the school system.
However, Chairman Phillip McLain said he had spoken to state attorneys who told him four years was the maximum that a school directors contract could run, and said he understood Barnes motion a two-year extension on a three-year contract to make the contract five years, an illegal move. Attorneys told him to stay away from words such as extend or continue, he told Barnes.
Barnes first told McLain he was mistaken and later said he was playing games and attempting to undermine the motion. Barnes declined to change the wording of his motion to a new contract but said it was equivalent to just that, and he did not see it as being illegal.
Hardin questioned why McLain did not share his knowledge of the four-year limit with the rest of the board before the meeting, to which McLain answered that he assumed everyone else already knew about the four-year limit.
Finally, after several periods of silence, Barnes withdrew his motion and Hardin offered one up to give Dykes a new, four-year contract beginning this July 1. The new contract would void the current one and begin again on July 1, 2010.
However, some board members said four years was too long, and they would prefer a three-year contract essentially what Barnes had proposed but they wanted him to not use the word extension.
Board member Todd Ganger said his problem with a four-year contract was the felt they would be tying the hands of any new board members elected in the August election.
Mary Lo Silvers said a four-year contract would be a favor to the next board because Dykes has done an exceptional job leading the school system.
Dykes had no comments during the contract discussions.
The motion passed 6-2. Ganger and Keith Ervin voted no, with Mary Lo Silvers, Barnes, Hardin, Clarence Mabe, Bill Brinkley and Chad Williams voting yes.