HAPPY BOARD – The Humboldt School Board (upper photo) was all smiles after an extended standing ovation from the crowd showing their pleasure of Dr. Versie Hamlett (left) being offered a three-year contract extension as director of schools. Dr. Hamlett accepted the board’s offer. The board deliberated and discussed Dr. Hamlett’s contract for months and finally held a vote last Thursday night. Board members smiling are (from right) Phillip Hardee, Chuck Samples, Leon McNeal, Lee Williams and chairman Terry Johnson. Dr. Hamlett supporter, Lori Coleman (lower photo) gives Dr. Versie Hamlett (right) a big hug after Thursday night’s board meeting. Coleman is a regular attendee at school board meeting and has always backed Dr. Hamlett and her diligent work for Humboldt City Schools.
by Danny Wade
Humboldt School Board came together last week and voted on a contract extension for superintendent, Dr. Versie Hamlett. The vote had been delayed for months. Board chairman, Terry Johnson, casted the lone “no” vote Thursday night.
The first agenda item was discussion and consideration of a contract extension. This item has been first on agendas for the past few months. Thursday night was the first time the board took action and held a vote.
Board member Lee Williams motioned to extend Dr. Hamlett’s contract for three years beginning July 1, 2017 and extending until June 30, 2020. Williams’ motion included a 5-percent salary increase, additional vacation days that would total 20 per year and a $4,000 increase for car allowance. Chuck Samples seconded the motion.
Board member Phillip Hardee said he met with Dr. Hamlett and worked out this proposed agreement. Hardee said he enlisted the help of Greer Lashlee in the negotiations.
Hardee also said they talked about getting raises for all school staff.
Leon McNeal asked Hardee if that included all employees such as aids, cafeteria workers, custodians, everyone working for the school system and not just teachers. He noted that some of the staff are living in poverty and need raises.
Hardee said the discussion with Dr. Hamlett included the entire staff of Humboldt City Schools.
McNeal asked Dr. Hamlett if she accepted this proposal. She answered, “Yes, if the board approves it.”
Chairman Johnson’s only participation in the discussion came when he asked what the dollar amount would be.
Williams said his motion was for a 5-percent salary increase. He then pulled out his phone to calculate the increase in dollars. With a current base salary of $104,000, the increase would be $5,200, plus the additional $4,000 for car allowance.
Johnson said that puts the contract at $113,200. Then he estimated an additional $10,000 for benefits. That’s around $123,000, he said.
After discussion, Hardee called for a roll call vote and said he would vote first. Hardee voted yes to offer a contract extension with the terms laid out. Samples voted yes as did McNeal and Williams. Johnson cast the last vote, a no vote as he announced the vote passed and quickly attempted to move onto the next agenda item. He offered no explanation for voting against Dr. Hamlett’s contract extension.
Dr. Hamlett asked if she could speak before moving on. She thanked all those who supported her. She said she was happy to work in Humboldt, loves her job and wants to continue the progress that has began.
After her comments, the majority of the large crowd stood and applauded for a lengthy amount of time, which brought a humbled smile to Dr. Hamlett’s face.
As the applause ended, Dr. Hamlett said, “I accept!” which brought another round of applause.
When the meeting resumed, the board received the 2016 audit report. Winston Truett from Alexander, Thompson, Arnold, CPA briefly went over the report highlighting a few points of interest, mainly dealing with retirement funds and how the market had affected those figures.
Truett said during his report on the internal school funds (audit on the schools), there were only two findings. One finding was for school support organizations and the other was yearbook profits. He noted those findings have been dealt with.
There were no findings from the superintendent’s office audit report. Truett also told the board that the findings from last year’s audit had been corrected.
Williams said this was a good report with only two findings when last year there were nine.
Dr. Hamlett commended Leanne Green, bookkeeper for the school system, for doing a wonderful job. Dr. Hamlett also thanked all the bookkeepers at each school for doing a great job.
The audit report was unanimously approved.
STANDING OVATION – The crowd attending Thursday night’s school board meeting rose to their feet and applauded after the board offered Dr. Versie Hamlett a 3-year extension on her contract. Dr. Hamlett accepted the offer. Dozens of citizens and school staff attended board meetings over the past few months with the superintendent’s contract on the agenda for discussion.