By Louie Graves
By a split vote, Monday night, the Mineral Springs School Board voted to hire a Little Rock law firm to negotiate a buyout of the school’s contract with former Supt. Thelma Forte´ who was suspended with pay, last year.
Her contract runs through the end of the 2021 school year. She was suspended with pay by a split 4-3 vote at the board’s July 2019 meeting, sparking some community protests.
Monday, board president Mike Erwin himself made the motion to hire the law firm following an executive session lasting six minutes. Two school board members — William Dixon and Dorothy Vaughn, both of whom had supported Forte´ previously — abstained from voting.
In an earlier discussion of a motion to hire former superintendent Curtis Turner as a financial consultant, Vaughn did ask why the district was paying two superintendents.
Turner will be paid $750 per month for telephone consultation, with extra pay if he is needed to come to the school campus for a meeting. The vote to enter a contract for Turner’s services was split 4-2, with Dixon and Vaughn voting “nay.”
Interim Supt. Billy Lee, Jr., asked the board to approve a master facilities plan and pass a resolution to enable the plan which calls for removal of the administration offices from the old Saratoga campus to renovated space in the old MS High School. The “old” administrative office building was among the first to be torn down to make room for the district’s new K-12 facility, and administration was moved to the empty Saratoga school space.
Board members in attendance for January’s regular meeting were president Mike Erwin, Jaimie Jackson, William Dixon, Dorothy Vaughn, Ray Hawkins and Kay Thornton. Board member Sheila Jackson was absent.
Also present were Supt. Billy Lee, Jr., school principals Clint Jones and Stacy Gauldin, and administrative staff Frankie Tollett and Marla Williams.