School board nears super deal

By Greg Gelpi

Clayton County could have a new school superintendent and will have a new vice chairman of the school board tonight.

The Clayton County Board of Education will hold a regular business meeting at 7 tonight at the Administrative Offices at 1058 Fifth Ave. in Jonesboro.

The board authorized board attorney Gary Sams to enter into contract negotiations with Barbara Pulliam, the superintendent of the St. Louis Park, Minn., school system. The board chose her to be the school system's next superintendent from a list of 41 applicants after conducting a national search.

Sams sent a "draft copy of the proposed contract" to Pulliam shortly after the board named Pulliam Dec. 19, but hadn't heard back from her or her attorney as of Friday.

"I'm hoping," Sams said, mentioning that Pulliam's attorney was in Jamaica. "I'm not too confident, though."

Sams hoped to have her under contract and working by Feb. 1. Pulliam has already given notice of her leaving St. Louis Park, although she is still working out the details of the contract.

Sams is working within the framework of the advertisement for the superintendent's job. According to the advertisement, the position pays from $150,000 to $180,000. Fringe benefits are negotiable, though.

Dan Colwell, the superintendent before current interim Superintendent William Chavis, was paid $157,304 and made about $221,000 a year after fringe benefits.

If the board and Pulliam agree on a contract, she will become the county's first female superintendent and only the second black superintendent of the primarily black school system.

The other two finalists for the superintendent's job were DeKalb County Associate Superintendent Stanley Pritchett and Roy Brooks, an area superintendent from Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Fla.

Pulliam previously worked as an associate superintendent in Rockford County, Ill., and the director of school support services for Chicago's school system of 459,000 students.

The board will also choose a vice chairman of the board. Connie Kitchens has served in the position for the past year. The position is voted on every year. The vice chairman is chosen by simple majority vote of the nine board members.

Nedra Ware, who is the chairwoman, will hold her position for another year. That position is chosen every two years.

The board will also hear reports from senior administrators and take public comments.