School board approves Pulliam contract

By Greg Gelpi

The Clayton County Board of Education approved a contract with Barbara Pulliam to be the county's next superintendent.

In a unanimous vote and without any discussion, the board on Tuesday approved a contract that board attorney Gary Sams negotiated with Pulliam's attorney, making her the first female superintendent of Clayton County. She is only the second black superintendent of the primarily black school system.

Sams on Monday flew to St. Louis Park, Minn., where Pulliam is the superintendent of the local school system, to iron out the details of the contract.

According to the contract, she would be paid a salary of $180,000, plus a number of other fringe benefits, including $400 a month for undocumented expenses. She would also be paid for any business-related expenses that she does document and receive a late-model vehicle of the school board's choosing.

Although her attorney originally asked for a personal driver, she got a new attorney and no such condition was in the final contract.

Other benefits in the contract include expenses for professional meetings, insurance, sick leave, one physical exam a year, professional and civic fees, "reasonable" moving expenses, temporary housing and the same annual leave as senior administrators with the added benefit of being able to cash out 10 of those days at the end of each year.

"It certainly isn't extravagant," Sams said.

To reduce "micromanaging," Sams said the contract also requires all complaints to the board be sent to Pulliam for her to handle.

"It ought to stop the micromanaging," he said. "It ought to be to the satisfaction of SACS and the public."

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the accrediting agency that placed the school system on probation, named micromanaging as one of the problems of the system.

"We had a full day of negotiations," Sams said. "I am happy to say we came to terms."

The three-year contract also allows the board to terminate the agreement after 18 months. If the board does so, the board must pay Pulliam's salary, expenses and benefits for 12 months or the remainder of the contract, whichever is less, Sams said, adding that this would prevent a "fiasco" from occurring, like when the board fired Superintendent Dan Colwell last January.

The board had to buy out the rest of Colwell's contract for $232,000, Sams said.

Interim Superintendent William Chavis is paid $118,000. Pulliam's salary would be higher than the superintendents in the Griffin-Spalding, Henry and Fayette school systems. She would also be paid more than the interim superintendent in Fulton County.

Pulliam is paid $142,500 as the superintendent in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Bob Boyer of the Georgia Parent Teacher Association attended Tuesday's meeting and has followed the issue since the school board fired Colwell.

"I hope that Dr. Pulliam executes the contract," Boyer said. "I think it's critical that the county supports her."

Sams said Tuesday he would send the contract to Pulliam overnight. With her signature, the contract would be official. She said she would begin work in Clayton County Feb. 9.

The board moved its next regular business meeting from Feb. 2 to Feb. 9 so that Pulliam would be available for the meeting.

In the only other business item, the school board approved a school bus bid from Atlanta Freightliner.

The bid is for the purchase of 15 72-passenger buses, five 48-passenger buses and five 48-passenger buses with lifts. The cost is $1,498,045.