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ECSS: Contract negotiation on-going for McClung

Escambia County School Board members gathered at the table Friday afternoon to evaluate a counter-offer on a contract extended to Michele McClung last week for the position of superintendent for the system.

The original contract was presented to McClung who responded through her attorney concerning certain points of the contract.

Broox Garrett, attorney for the Escambia County School Board, went over the points of the contract as countered by Ms. McClung’s attorney.

“I asked for an answer to the contract terms and the offer by Tuesday,” Garrett told the board. “I received a letter from her attorney on Tuesday with her changes in the contract. There are a number of changes, in particular at issue is the residency requirement.”

In a previous discussion, board members had indicated that it was important that the person named as superintendent be a full-time resident of the county and gave a time limit on how soon that residency should occur.

In Friday’s meeting, the board agreed to extend the time to 90 days for relocation as opposed to the original request of a 60-day relocation time.

School Board Chair Cindy Jackson told the board that she had worked with Garrett on drafting the contract for presentation to McClung.

“That contract was brought to the board for approval of changes,” Jackson said. “It was discussed by everyone of ya’ll said that we would require her to be a resident here.”

Other requests made by McClung to the ECSS Board included a $5,000 moving expense budget; a $500 monthly housing stipend; a cell phone and stipend to cover cell phone costs monthly; and a stipulation concerning breach of contract by the superintendent.

Board member Danny Benjamin said he believed in the process to offer the position to McClung.

“This was a good process,” Benjamin said. “We had 20-plus candidates and got down to six. Then we had site visits and interviews then a 4 to 3 vote and a final tally showed McClung had the most votes. We agreed it was unanimous and that’s what we did – a unity vote. Our children, teachers and staff are at stake and now we need to negotiate this contract. She has to be welcomed by the staff.”

Current Superintendent John Knott assured the board that any person named to the position will be supported by the staff in the system.

“No matter who it is, the employees of this county will support them and fulfill their roles,” Knott said. “The leaders in this county have all said that they will welcome them in.”

Garrett said the revised contract will be returned to McClung’s attorney for consideration this week with a request for a speedy response.

Any counters will be presented to the board for consideration before a final contract is approved. If approved and accepted by McClung, the contract would be effective September 1.

Knott has agreed to remain in his current role through the end of August. He previously announced his retirement in April.