School board renews all personnel contracts

Pictured, from left, are Fort Payne Board of Education Vice-President Randy McClung with City Superintendent of Education Jim Cunningham. After a decade of serving on the school board, McClung is leaving. He will be replaced at the June 25 meeting by Sharon Jones, who was recently appointed by the Fort Payne City Council. 

The Fort Payne Board of Education unanimously renewed the contracts of support personnel and certified personnel at its May 14 meeting.

Superintendent Jim Cunningham said, “This is the first year in my 18 years here that we’ve had no non-renewals of a support person or certified person. This is a very good thing.”

He said this reflects on the high quality of employees in the Fort Payne City Schools.

Three board members were cautious about voting on renewing the contracts of system employees to whom they are related, wary of any appearance of a conflict of interest. They consulted with Board attorney Rocky Watson, who advised them to vote for renewing the contracts for personnel overall while abstaining on approving for specific people, thus avoiding any undue influence over the process.

Among those retiring from the system this year are Greg Pendergrass at Fort Payne High School, Debbie Richards and Lori Crabtree at Fort Payne Middle School, Vicki Dodd at Williams Avenue Elementary and Wills Valley Elementary employees Kelly Williamson and Regina Dodd, according to Superintendent’s Secretary Donna Chitwood.

In other business, the school board:

• elected Jimmy Durham as board president and Kathy Prater as board vice-president.

• bid farewell and expressed appreciation to current board Vice-President Randy McClung, who has spent 10 years serving on the board, at his final meeting with the group. The Fort Payne City Council appointed Sharon Jones to fill his seat at the next meeting, which will be held June 25, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the conference room of the Central Office. Several people noted McClung’s exceptional dedication to the school system, working many additional hours and asking many questions to ensure he firmly grasped school matters so he could make informed decisions. McClung thanked the board for their words and thanked Chief Financial Officer Patty Strickland for her patience over the years.

• accepted the resignation of Thomas Shanklin as co-head soccer coach at FPHS, effective at the final game of the 2019-2020 season.

• accepted the resignation of Lisa Powell as assistant cross country coach at FPHS, effective May 5, 2020.

• accepted the resignation of Kaci Kirk as math teacher and head volleyball coach at FPHS.

• approved the transfer of Austin Panell from P.E. teacher at WAES to driver’s ed teacher at FPHS and from head junior high football coach to varsity football assistant at FPHS.

• transferred Lauren Haymon from fourth grade teacher at WAES to first grade teacher at WVES for 2020-2021.

• transferred Kim Lands from first grade to second grade teacher at WVES for 2020-2021.

• transferred Alison Beck from intervention teacher to sixth grade teacher at FPMS, effective August 4, 2020, and non-renew her contract on May 27, 2021.

• hired Ashley Norris as P.E. teacher at WAES, effective August 4, 2020, and non-renew her contract on May 27, 2021.

• hired Stormy Stevens as science teacher at FPHS, effective August 4, 2020, and non-renew the contract on May 27, 2021.

• hired Steven Chestnut as math teacher at FPMS, effective August 4, 2020, and non-renew his contract on May 27, 2021.

• approved the creation, advertising and filling of two system-wide special education aides.

• approved the additional work days for the following positions, during the 2020-2021 summer, as submitted: Michelle Pettis, elementary gifted teacher for 20 days; Sherri Gibbs, elementary math coach for 15 days; Regina Boatwright, WVES counselor for 10 days; Kristie Conaway, WVES reading coach for 10 days; Janet Guerra, WVES secretary for 20 days; Steve Black, FPHS A/V Technology and Communications; Kelley Chapman, elementary instructional technology specialist for 20 days; and Hannah Turner, secondary instructional technology specialist.

• approved declaring elementary textbooks as surplus items.

• approved the April 2020 financial statements and bank reconciliation reports as submitted.

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