By Bill Short
The Millington School Board voted this week to amend the employment contract of Dr. David Roper, who intends to retire as superintendent on Aug. 1.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Larry Jackson and seconded by Cody Childress. The motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with Chairman C. J. Haley absent.
While noting that this is his 41st year in public education, Roper said he has decided that it is time for him to take the retirement available to him and “turn the reins over” to someone else.
“It’s not a decision that I arrived at impulsively or quickly,” he said. “But I’m hoping to get a little bit closer to my grandkids, who are a long way away from me, at least for my standards.”
Roper acknowledged that the board and administration have “come a long way from those early days” in 2013, when it was attempting to get a new school system “up and running.”
“I want to work with you any way that I can,” he told the board members, “as you select someone to oversee the school district moving forward.”
Childress, who was elected board chairman for two of the past four years, said he has enjoyed working with Roper.
“Not all times were fun and lollipops,” he acknowledged. “There were a lot of hair-raising moments. But you were the man to get us where we are today.”
Childress said Roper has “come to a different season” in his life when he needs to “move on.” And he “totally” understands his desire to be closer to his grandchildren.
“But I personally want to thank you for what you’ve done,” he said. “You’ve meant a lot to this community, and we are a better community for that.”
On Dec. 20, 2013, Roper was one of three finalists the board invited to return for second interviews for the school district’s superintendent position.
That night, at a special called meeting conducted shortly after the conclusion of those interviews, a majority of the board’s initially elected members voted to give Roper a “conditional” job offer that was contingent upon preparation of a contract.
On Jan. 6, 2014, the board unanimously approved a contract with him, and he began his new job on Jan. 20.
At its Aug. 1, 2016 meeting, the board voted to approve a new contract for Roper that was to expire on June 30, 2020. But the contract included a provision that it could be terminated by the superintendent’s retirement.
The amendment approved at Monday night’s meeting states that the current contract will remain in effect until July 31.
If the board “designates” a new superintendent before then, Roper will “relinquish” the duties and responsibilities of the position on the employment date of his successor.
The board will grant Roper additional vacation days that will begin on the first day his successor reports for duty and continue until his retirement date.
At an April 19 special called meeting, the board voted unanimously to ask the Tennessee School Boards Association to assist in its search for a new superintendent.
By Bill Short