|UPDATE 2/16/2016 - During Monday evening's Calhoun Board of Education meeting, school board members voted 4-1 to give current superintendent Tim Woodward a three year contract.|
Woodward's two year contract is expiring at the end of this school year.
Voting for the contract was Steve Whited, Cynthia Dale, Larry Harris, and Jenna Jett, with Jackie Collins-Frail dissenting.
Woodward was initially hired at $80,000 annual salary. The board indicated his salary will be increased $5,000 for the first year and $2,000 for the second two years of his contract.
ORIGINAL STORY 2/13/16 SUPERINTENDENT'S HIRE BEFORE SCHOOL BOARD - Tax Money To Reduce Deficit "Complicated"
By Bob Weaver
A decision could be made Monday night at a Calhoun Board of Education meeting to renew a contract with Tim Woodward as the Calhoun Superintendent of Schools.
School officials indicated a final decision might not be made Monday.
Woodward is completing a two-year contract with the school system.
Also about a dozen positions are on the board agenda under Reduction in Force.
Shortly after Woodward's hire in 2014, it was revealed that the county school system was suffering from a deficit that increased to $1.8 million.
Woodward presented a multi-year aggressive deficit reduction plan which resulted in a reduction of about $100,000 last year, with some school officials saying it could now take up to 30 years without a school levy or a change in the state's funding formula to eliminate.
Most of his plan was not implemented.
Calhoun is the only county currently operating with a deficit, although several counties, mostly in coal areas, are announcing major reductions in personnel.
Further financial problems for county school systems are occurring with an overall reduction from the state for the next fiscal year.
The state has yet to budge on helping rural counties with low student enrollment, increasing the capitated school funding formula.
With Woodward's deficit reducing, the board approved the elimination of $600 supplements given school teachers and service personnel, given to all employees during better economic times.
The elimination of the supplements was a bitter issue among school employees, and a Law Judge ordered most of them reinstated over technical grounds.
Since then the school system has essentially eliminated those supplements using a "buy out" with employees.
Last year, Superintendent Woodward had a major shake-up with county administrators, saying the shake-up was a reduction in force while giving some of the new positions up to $9,100 supplements or apparent pay increases.
Woodward, however, has maintained they are not pay raises.
It appears those pay increases are still in tact, while reportedly three cases are in appeal by former administrators who lost their jobs, some seeking to return to their positions.
Those grievances have been consolidated, yet to be heard by an administrative law judge, according to Superintendent Woodward.
Woodward said the changes were directed toward creating a "dream team" to operate the system.
The problem of school fiances appears further stalemated with the Calhoun Commission trying to help Calhoun Schools by designating tax benefits from a proposed $94 million compressor station to be located in a remote area of northern Calhoun.
The Calhoun Commission has said they are willing to look at a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) proposal from Columbia Pipeline if those funds would initially be used toward Calhoun Schools $1.7 million deficit.
Through regular taxation on Columbia, taxes would be split - Calhoun Schools getting 65% and the county getting 35%. The school system would not benefit because the state would reduce county money from the school funding formula.
So far, the school system has responded they cannot guarantee the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) could be used for deficit reduction, saying the state's financial formulas, when applied locally, is too complicated.
School officials are continuing to work with the county commission to remediate the issue.
See related story CALHOUN COMMISSION MEETS WITH COLUMBIA PIPELINE REGARDING TAXATION OF COMPRESSOR STATION - Considers Pilot Proposal Benefiting Calhoun Schools, Funds To Be Applied To $1.7 Million Deficit