The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

August 24, 2013

Finance chief search expected to take at least 6 weeks

(Continued)

Passing on increase

Sisk and McGill both said they preferred to retain Craft. In retrospect, the superintendent said he could have scheduled a work session to make a formal request to the board.

“I made the request to Mr. McGill to increase Jonathan’s salary before the Hartselle job, and he went to the board,” Sisk said. “This all occurred before we knew he had applied and was a finalist, and the response was ‘Let’s wait and see what happens.’ A raise has to be a recommendation by the board, but I certainly supported a raise.

“In the long run, I think this works out better for Jonathan because it gives him a fresh opportunity to do things differently with a different system, new challenges and new opportunities.”

What were the reasons for the seven-member school board to pass on increasing the pay for Craft, who was described as a "great" chief financial officer by Sisk and Wilson?

“There was never a formal offer and there never seemed to be (majority) board support about giving him a raise,” said McGill, who said Craft’s pay ranks in the middle of 11 school systems that compare to the Limestone in average daily enrollment. “I do think we’re looking at hiring in a new (CSFO) in the $85,000 to $95,000 range.”

Differing opinions

When contacted by The News Courier, board members Earl Glaze, Charles Shoulders and Marty Adams said they opposed the initial consideration for a pay increase. McGill, James Shannon and Anthony Hilliard said they favored a raise, while Darin Russell said he needed to know the amount of the increase before making a decision at that time.

Shannon said the board made a mistake by not doing more to address keeping Craft with the Limestone system. He added that Craft also had the option to speak to each board member.

Glaze said he believed Craft did not act swiftly enough to provide assistance to a school bookkeeper, a situation that Glaze said was remedied this past school year. Glaze added he “probably would have voted to give him a raise” if a formal vote had occurred. He said Craft has “done a good job,” but “I don’t believe in giving someone a raise just to keep him.”

Shoulders said the board should avoid giving a non-contract employee special consideration for a raise. He said at the time McGill mentioned the possibility of a raise, Shoulders thought “it was because Jonathan was looking to move.”

“My position was that we needed to stay with the progression we’ve always used as an employee goes from one step (on the salary schedule) to the next,” said Shoulders.

Adams said his decision was based on timing. He said Craft did “a great job.”

“At the time, my answer was no but it was not an emphatic no … we were unsure about BRAC funds at the time and it was before the state mandated the 2 percent raise (for K-12 employees),” Adams said. “It was a timing thing, and the (requested) raise wouldn’t have been an exorbitant amount. I always vote with my conscience and hated to do it because I like Jonathan a lot.”

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