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Fractured school board pushes through last-minute measure

JONESBORO — The Clayton County Board of Education was split 5-4 Monday on hiring the board attorney and the Georgia School Boards Association to conduct its superintendent search.

Board members Mark Christmas, Michael King, Jessie Goree and Charlton Bivins opposed the move.

Goree and Bivins were most vocal about receiving the proposal mere hours before being asked to vote on it.

“This is a surprise to everybody,” said Bivins.

Bivins argued the board had little time to review the proposal before being asked to decide on it.

He said the board did not have time to study alternative proposals. He said he preferred seeing the board open “request for proposal” bids.

“This strategy is not a board strategy,” said Bivins.

Board attorney Clem Doyle brought the idea to the board after he completed the proposal with GSBA Monday afternoon.

Doyle said the proposal was an attempt on his part to satisfy differing views on the board about how to approach the hiring of a superintendent search firm.

Some members suggest going with GSBA while others want the search done through the board attorney’s firm, Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers LLC.

Doyle negotiated with officials from GSBA to formulate a potential partnership that would cost the board an estimated $8,000 for GSBA and an additional $195 per hour for services through his firm.

“This is not a fair process,” said Goree.

She said she was concerned about whether the board’s interest would be considered.

Goree pointed to former Superintendent Dr. Edmond Heatley’s contract negotiations and said the contract appeared to her to favor Heatley, who served from July 1, 2009, until Sept. 30.

Heatley’s contract included a salary starting at $250,000 with potential annual performance-based bonuses worth up to $25,000. Luvenia Jackson, the district’s interim superintendent, is paid $195,000.