Collier tapped as Escambia BOE Superintendent

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Dr. Michele Collier was approved as the Escambia County School System’s next superintendent during the board’s regular meeting on Feb. 22 at Flomaton High School.
Collier has been serving as the interim superintendent since Jan. 18, when she replaced Michele McClung.
Board Attorney Broox Garrett said during the meeting that applications were opened for the superintendent’s position, and then closed at 4 p.m. on Feb. 21.
“We had one application, and Ms. Collier’s application was received,” Garrett said. “We have reviewed her application and it meets all of the qualifications as noted in the application.”
Garrett sent each board member a copy of the application, along with a motion.
“After reviewing the contract, we were asked to go ahead and prepare a contract and sent it to each board member yesterday (Feb. 21),” he said. “There were some slight revisions, and the board reviewed it as well. With that, it’s up to the board at this point to take any action.”
Before the board voted to accept Collier as the next superintendent, District 3 Board Member Mike Edwards said during a discussion period, and in reading the contract, he saw one thing that stood out to him was the without cause (Section 5B), which means the termination of the superintendent without cause.
“I’m surprised with all of the federal and state dollars in our system that we have such a clause,” Edwards said. “We used it recently, and it cost us $90,000.”
Edwards suggested making a motion to amend the vote for without cause to make it a unanimous vote of the board, rather than a majority vote.
Garrett said the without cause provision allows the board to essentially buy out the contract.
“If they are so inclined to do so, they can’t penalize the employee of the result of it,” the attorney said. “They have to pay the full financial benefit, which is the benefit of the employee.
“I’m not sure you can limit the majority rules of the board of education,” he added.
“I’m not sure you can put a clause in a contract that can be binding. I’m not sure a unanimous concept would be upheld.”
Edwards said for tenured teachers, one has to have a record of something they’re doing wrong recorded before even talking about letting them go.
“The superintendent is (hired) by contract and so are some of your principals,” Garrett said. “At this point, I would not recommend you to accept Mr. Edwards’ recommendation. But it’s up to you.”
District 7 Board Member Coleman Wallace said by this authority, the former employee would be paid their salary and the contract would be bought out.
Edwards said in a phone call Feb. 23 that the contract is for 2 years, and 4 months in length.
“If we had gotten it to where we went from a majority to a unified vote, then it would get away from being political, which it was,” Edwards said. “My proposal was that it had to be a unanimous vote to be able to use that clause. Then, it would probably be something real. That’s why I was pushing that. It was in protecting the new superintendent from that happening (to her).”
The board in a 4-3 vote didn’t renew McClung’s contract as the superintendent during a meeting on Oct. 12, 2023.
During the Feb. 22, 2024 meeting, four schools – Escambia County Middle School, Pollard McCall Junior High School, W.S. Neal Elementary School and W.S. Neal High School – were recognized as four of 25 schools that have improved in the state.
“We have four of them,” Edwards said. “That’s a testament to what they’ve done. But, it’s also a testament of Ms. McClung’s star-studded staff. When she’s taken out of the picture, we’re still going on all cylinders.”
District 6 Board Member Sherry Digmon made the motion to offer the superintendent’s position to Collier with a starting salary of $174,735 in accordance with the board’s salary schedule. District 2 Board Member Danny Benjamin seconded the motion. No board member opposed the motion.
In other business, the board:
• approved an overnight trip for WSNHS cheerleaders to attend a cheer camp in Gulf Shores from June 12 through June 15;
• approved an out-of-state trip for the senior class at FHS to visit the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coke in Atlanta, Ga., on April 10;
• approved the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 school calendars;
• approved the 2024-2025 CTE Textbook Committee. The committee, appointed by the board, meets for the purpose of selecting textbooks from the list of adoptions approved by the Alabama State Board of Education;
• approved the purchase of one 2023 Ford Transit Connect Passenger Wagon for the Child Nutrition Program from Long Lewis Ford of Mucle Shoals in the amount of $35,620.50, to be paid for by CNP funds. Collier said this wagon will help transit breakfast and lunch from Rachel Patterson Elementary School to A.C. Moore Elementary School. The wagon will also be used during the summer program as well, she said;
• approved to contract with Walker Construction and Consulting Services to repair a damaged canopy at ECMS for $29,950 to be paid for via insurance;
• approved a subscription of SchoolStatus Connect High Impact program for data analytics and communication for $50,242 to be paid by ESSER 3 funds;
• approved the board of education’s cheerleading constitution as this item was tabled for 30 days; and,
• held off on payment of bills and payroll until the next special-called meeting, which will be held March 7 in Brewton. The meeting will be held at the Brewton Central
Office. A work session will begin at 3 p.m. with a brief meeting at 4:30.
The next regular meeting will be held March 21, at 4:30 p.m. at WSNMS.

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