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Our view: Fighting over the obvious




The Columbus Municipal School District Board of Trustees held a special meeting Wednesday morning. With just one item on the agenda, extending the contract of interim superintendent Edna McGill, if ever there were a chance for a "five-minute-now-let's-go-get-breakfast" meeting this was it. 


We pause to chuckle at such a naive notion. 


True to form, the board bickered and battled, hemmed and hawed, wandered off to every available tangent, split hairs and wandered in aimless circles before emerging two hours later with a decision: "We'll decide this later." 


We can hardly wait. Literally. 


What was assumed to be a simple matter of extending McGill's contract was greatly complicated by another issue that only serves to emphasize just how hopelessly inept this board is. 


Turns out, there wasn't a contract to extend. 


Incredibly, when McGill signed on as the district's temporary interim superintendent in June no contract detailing the terms and conditions of her employment was ever prepared or signed. The only documentation connected with McGill's agreement with the district was a one-page document signed only by McGill and assistant superintendent Craig Shannon, the sort of agreement a janitor or teacher or secretary might sign. 


We will not place the blame for this on the board, however. Board members are lay people, after all. Preparing and executing contracts are the responsibility of board attorney David Dunn, who clearly dropped the ball on this, something he acknowledged during the meeting.  


As you might imagine, chaos ensured. 


At the time of her hiring, McGill said, she had agreed to work for an annual salary of $88,000 until Sept. 30, at which point she expected to have her standing reaccessed. The salary of previous superintendent, Dr. Martha Liddell, was originally $135,600 (And presumably still is; the board has yet to formally terminate Liddell.).  


It would seem a simple proposition at this point: Decide whether to keep McGill on beyond Sept. 30. If so, pay her a salary and commensurate with her experience and the work ethic she has demonstrated this summer.  


Fat chance.  


A proposal to do that ended in a 2-2 deadlock. Even when McGill agreed to shave the salary down to $130,000, the board still couldn't agree. 


Finally, McGill agreed to stay on at the $88,000 rate until the end of October, giving the board another month to stumble around blindly.  


At some point, the board will eventually turn its attention to the most important task it faces: Finding a permanent superintendent. 


We can only imagine what a circus act that will be.



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