By Bill Short
It took the action Monday night during its regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Mark Coulter and seconded by Chris Denson.
Board member Cody Childress called this “a good thing” for E. A. Harrold, which has not had an assistant principal since the municipal school system was established in 2013.
Patricia Speight was employed last month as the school’s new principal after her predecessor Mandy Compton retired on June 30.
James “Bo” Griffin, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, said the assistant principal will be a full-time position for 10 and a half months each year, and the starting salary will be $75,117.
Although he expressed confidence that Speight will do “an amazing job” at E. A. Harrold, Griffin noted that she “does need some help” with the effort required to increase test scores. And he said it will improve the “day-to-day operation” for her to “focus more on the academic side.”
Bruce Rasmussen, chief financial officer for the school system, said it has an additional $150,000 from the state’s Basic Educational Program that it can use to fund the position.
Griffin said the opening will be advertised, and he called it “imperative” that Speight be appointed to a committee that will interview applicants.
“I think she’ll have a major vote in this,” he noted, “because she’s got to work with that person every day. And they definitely have to mesh to get the most out of it.”
Although the state requires that only schools with at least 500 students have an assistant principal, Coulter said the board is doing something “out of our box” to ensure that E. A. Harrold is “more successful.”
“We appreciate the state’s guidance,” board member Larry Jackson added. “But we do what’s best for our system.”
In a related action, the board unanimously approved E. A. Harrold’s request to change its Parent Teacher Association to a Parent Teacher Organization.
Griffin said the “biggest difference” between the two is that the PTO’s $5 membership fee stays with the school. But with the PTA, $3.25 of that goes to the national organization.
When member Barbara Halliburton asked whether the board will recommend that the system’s three other schools also request the change, Griffin said each one can address that.
He wants to give the principals “some authority and a little leeway,” because there may be a school that is getting a lot of benefits out of the PTA.
“If that’s the case, that’s great,” he concluded. “But if they’re not, then let’s go ahead and go to the PTO.”