By Kim West
The Limestone County Board of Education voted 6-1 to create a new teaching and coaching position at Clements High School after a protracted discussion during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening.
The board agreed to add the position to allow Clements Principal Keith Hairrell to fill the head football coaching vacancy, which requires an accompanying teaching unit.
The job came open after Hairrell declined to renew the coaching supplement for Michael Brown, who still teaches physical education at the high school.
Board member Earl Glaze cast the dissenting vote after inquiring why an assistant coach at the school couldn’t be named as interim head coach until a teaching position became available at the end of the school year.
“I have a concern about creating a new position,” Glaze said prior to voting. “I think it’s bad business creating a position when there’s no vacancy.”
Superintendent Dr. Tom Sisk said having a permanent football coach in time for spring drills would allow Clements to properly evaluate its players.
He assured the board that he had the authority to ensure a teaching vacancy would exist by the next school year.
“The Student First law allows a superintendent to move a teacher within the first 20 days (of a school year) with the board’s approval,” Sisk said. “It’s this superintendent’s intention to ensure there is a vacancy.”
Even though the football coaching position hadn’t been posted yet, Hairrell said eight candidates had already contacted him. He said the new coach would immediately alleviate some of the overcrowded physical education classes at Clements.
“We have 95 to 100 students in one P.E. class with only two people trying to keep track of that many,” Hairrell said. “If there is a person available, there (are) numbers to support having another P.E. teacher.”
Clements, which had one of the smallest rosters in Class 3A with less than 25 players, finished the 2012 season 1-9 for the third consecutive season during Brown’s three-year tenure.
The Colts’ last winning season was 2009, when they went 7-4 and made their third straight playoff appearance under then-coach Barry Daniel.
The board also had a split decision regarding another personnel matter and voted 5-2 to approve the transfer of East Limestone instructional assistant Kyle Owens retroactive to Jan. 2.
Glaze, James Shannon, Charles Shoulders, Darin Russell and Marty Adams voted to approve the transfer, while Anthony Hilliard and Board President Bret McGill dissented.
Hilliard had introduced a motion to table the vote but did not receive a second, and he declined to give a reason for wanting to delay the transfer decision because it was a personnel matter.
For the remainder of the 2012-13 school year, Owens will teach P.E. after Brian Wagnon was tapped to serve as interim assistant principal at East. Wagnon is filling in for Louis Berry, who was named interim principal at Johnson Elementary School in October 2012.
Berry was moved after former Johnson Principal Dr. Casey Lewis initially was terminated by the board in November after being placed on paid administrative leave in October. The board and Lewis reached a resignation agreement in December that removed the termination from his personnel record and allows him to be paid through the end of his contract for the current school year.
The board met at the Limestone County Career Center rather than its usual meeting chambers at the Clinton Street annex to accommodate the nearly 150 people in attendance.
The audience was larger than usual because the Tanner High School football team and the varsity cheerleading squad was recognized by the board with resolutions commemorating the Rattlers’ undefeated Class 2A state championship season in 2012. Each football player and cheerleader received a copy of the resolution, and Hayden Stephens, Greg Maclin, Fred Rich and Kyle Shoulders were honored for being named to the All-State team.
Tanner football coach Laron White thanked the board for giving him another opportunity to ride the team bus with the players, most of whom donned slacks and dress shirts for the occasion instead of their customary green and black team warm-ups.
“I was happy to get on the bus again with these guys,” said White, who has guided the Rattlers to a 105-21 record during his 10-year tenure. “I don’t want this feeling to end and hopefully we can do it again next year.”
The next regular board meeting is at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Clinton Street annex.