The Bulloch County Board of Education split 4-3 over a vote on personnel last week, rejecting an entire list of recommendations from Superintendent Charles Wilson.
“The board did not approve the personnel recommendation I presented, and I’ll just let that record speak for itself,” Wilson said Wednesday, declining to comment on specifics.
As shown by the list, Wilson had not recommended Dr. Bonnie Gamble-Hilton to continue as principal of Langston Chapel Middle School for the 2015-16 school year. Instead, he recommended her for an assistant principal’s post at Statesboro High School, where Gamble-Hilton was an assistant principal before being named LCMS principal five years ago.
But after the board’s vote on the night of May 14, with one of the eight board members absent and four rejecting a motion to accept Wilson’s recommendations, Gamble-Hilton was offered a renewed contract as LCMS principal.
“She was offered the previous contract that she had,” Wilson confirmed.
Friday, May 15, was a state deadline for school administrators to be informed of their contract status. Despite the lack of an affirmative vote, all Bulloch County Schools principals who wanted to keep their current jobs now have them “by default” as their 2014-15 contracts were automatically renewed, Wilson said.
He said he respects the board members’ role in approving or declining his personnel recommendations and respects their decision.
“They did not approve it, and that’s their purview,” Wilson said. “It’s my role to make those decisions and recommend. It’s their role to decide whether to approve, and that’s the way it should work.”
One other change
One other principal, Todd Williford of Mattie Lively Elementary School, was not on the new contracts list because he is leaving to take a job outside the school system. His resignation, also part of the rejected overall recommendation list, will have to be brought back for another vote, along with resignations and hiring of other personnel, such as teachers, a psychologist and a counselor.
Central office personnel who are certified as educators were also on the list for contracts, but there were no changes in these.
The vote followed a lengthy closed-door session of the board, at the end of its regular, open meeting. Having received an earlier personnel recommendation list that did not contain the principals, the Statesboro Herald’s reporter left about 9 p.m. with the closed session underway.
The meeting ended about 10:30 p.m., Wilson said.
Board member Steve Hein made a motion to accept the superintendent’s recommendations, and board Chairman Dr. LeVon Wilson seconded it. Cheri Wagner joined in the “yes” vote, but the motion failed with board members Jay Cook, Maurice Hill, Glennera Martin and Mike Sparks voting against it, as noted by the superintendent’s administrative assistant. Mike Herndon was absent.
Board members asked
Board members called Wednesday and Thursday were not willing to discuss the reasons for the vote.
“I think this is going to have to come from the superintendent, as rightfully it was his recommendation,” Hein said.
“All I can say is that the vote was as you have outlined and that it did not pass,” Dr. LeVon Wilson, the chairman, said when asked whether the Gamble-Hilton recommendation had been the issue.
Cook said, “You know, that was in executive session, so I don’t think I can make a comment at this time.”
Officially, the motion and vote occurred in open session, even if nobody other than the board and some staff members were present. The discussion that preceded it was in closed session.
Sparks was reached by phone Wednesday, but indicated that he was preoccupied with a family member’s illness. Calls to the other board members who were present for the May 14 vote had not been returned as of late Thursday afternoon.
At Langston Chapel Middle School, an administrative assistant said that Gamble-Hilton was away and would not be back until Monday. An email to her school system-assigned address had not resulted in a response by the time this story was completed.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.