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No new contract for schools chief despite solid evaluation

News Staff Writer

Although Escambia County Board of Education members gave Superintendent of Education Michele McClung an overwhelmingly satisfactory evaluation during a special August 30 meeting, a majority of the board still refused to move forward with a motion to renew McClung’s contract, which expires in less than 10 months.
BOE Attorney Kirk Garrett told board members, who filled out evaluations over several days and returned them to him, that McClung received a collective “Satisfactory” grade in all 11 areas they evaluated.
After BOE President Danny Benjamin said “it would be wise for this board to move to the next step,” District 7’s Coleman Wallace made a motion to immediately renew McClung’s contract with a pact “starting today that would run until June 30, 2027.” His motion would also have allowed Benjamin and Brooks to begin negotiations with the superintendent on the new contract.
District 1’s Kevin Hoomes and District 4’s Cindy Jackson each expressed a degree of dissent, and a roll-call vote was taken.
Hoomes, Jackson, District 6’s Sherry Digmon and District 5’s Loumeek White all voted against a new contract. Wallace, Benjamin (District 2) and District 3’s Mike Edwards voted in favor of it.
Benjamin then expressed his disappointment in the board’s vote.
“We don’t need to wait very much longer than we have already,” he said. “You see what’s in front of us, and we see the value of having a superintendent that’s … It’s not fair to this board or to Mrs. McClung to hold her in limbo.
“We know what is at stake here, so I feel like we need to do what is right. Do you know how many counties would love to have what we have?”
He said the board would visit the contract renewal again at its September meeting, set for 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 14, at the Central Office in Brewton.
Wallace agreed wholeheartedly with Benjamin.
“I think it would be a monumental mistake not to renew the superintendent’s contract, because we would interrupt the progress we have made with our students, the advances so far,” he said.