The County School Board voted 5-3 on Thursday night to name Everett Fairchild as chairman. He immediately said a workshop would be set to go over the recent evaluations of Supt. Jim Scales and to "discuss his contract."
Dr. Scales has a contract that extends almost another two years, but some board members are considering a buy-out, sources said.
The school board in June 2008 voted 5-4 to extend the Scales contract from June 2010 to June 2012.
Dr. Scales, who came to Hamilton County from Texas after a national search in which a consultant was involved, is paid $202,274.72 per year.
Mr. Fairchild was supported by Rhonda Thurman and new board members Mike Evatt, Joe Galloway and David Testerman.
Linda Mosley got votes from George Ricks and Jeffery Wilson.
Chip Baker was absent.
Mr. Fairchild said, "Some of the recent decisions of the board have damaged our credibility."
He said he hoped the board tonight would reverse one of those decisions - not to approve a contract worked out with the Hamilton County Education Association. The board did approve the contract.
Mr. Fairchild, a former county school principal, also said he wants steps taken toward drawing up a new county school facilities plan. He asked each board member to discuss the issue with their County Commission member and with Gary Waters, who oversees county school buildings. He said there would then be discussions with County Mayor Claude Ramsey and the County Commission.
Mr. Evatt said there had been some "ill-advised decisions that have outraged the public and once again tarnished our image." He apparently referred to the recent decision to give retirement pay to school board members. That action was supported by Ms. Mosley, Mr. Ricks, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Baker and former board member Janice Boydston.
Mr. Evatt said an emphasis was needed on transparency.
He said integrity, experience and knowledge are needed at the school system.
Mr. Ricks said there had been "some under-handed things done" leading up to the chairman election.
When his name was called, he said the name of Linda Mosley in a loud voice.
Ms. Mosley said she became acting chairman after Kenny Smith went off the board. She said a move to put items on the agenda should have come through her, but did not.
She also asked board attorney Scott Bennett if there had been any violation of the Sunshine Law in asking for certain items be placed on the agenda. He said he was not aware of one.
Mr. Wilson was named vice chairman and Ms. Mosley secretary.
There was more sparring later in the session when Dr. Scales said board members were supposed to give 24-hour notice when they were going to pull an item off the "consent agenda." The consent-agenda items are considered to be routine and non-controversial, but are sometimes pulled by board members who want them discussed and voted on separately.
Ms. Thurman said when questions are answered before board meetings "the public never knows what's going on. Nobody ever hears the answer.
"I'm sorry if you have a problem answering a question. I'm not asking for myself. I'm here for the taxpayers."
Mr. Wilson said it was agreed at a work session at Nashville that the 24-hour notice would be board procedure.
Ms. Thurman said, "You would be hard-pressed to get this board to go along with that. I think this is a different day than the (Joe) Conner days."
A number of black leaders, including former County Commissioner Paul McDaniel and former City Judge Walter Williams, in an apparent show of support for Dr. Scales.
Rhonda Thurman is often the one on an 8-1 school board vote, but she was on the winning side on the chairman balloting
- Photo2 by Wes Schultz