Cherry gets positive, 5-3 vote on contract extension, but six votes apparently needed




CELINA-School board members voted 5-3 last Thursday to extend schools director Donnie Cherry’s contract by two years, but after some research, apparently six “yes” votes were needed.


The 5-3 margin on the contract extension came on the third motion on that, after an earlier motion to wait until 90 days before his initial 18-month contract was up was voted down by that same margin. 


Cherry was hired in January to finish the 2008-09 school year and for the current school year, basically an 18-month period. 


Cherry said Monday afternoon after officials had studied the matter, it appears six “yes” votes will be needed for the measure to pass. 


A possible contract extension for Cherry was the second order of business on the December board agenda, after the approval of the November meeting minutes.


“I think we should wait,” said board member Liz Boles. “I think we should table it.”


“I think the evaluation should go further than the 20 questions” included in a recent board evaluation on the director, said board member David West. 


After some discussion, including when test score results might be available, Boles made the motion, seconded by West, to consider the matter 90 days before Cherry’s contract was up at the end of June. That motion was voted down 5-3. Board members Bill Donaldson and Heather Hammock were absent.


After that, Anthony Smith made a motion to extend Cherry’s contract for another 18 months from the end of his current one. That motion died for a lack of a second.


Russell Cherry then made a motion to extend the director’s contract by three years, with Connie Dillehay providing a second. That was voted down 5-3. 


When asked by board members earlier about what length of a contract extension he was looking for, Cherry said, “I would like to say three years, which would get me to 62 (retirement age), but I would settle for two.” Cherry also said he would not ask for a pay increase “with these economic times.”


Board member Cherry then made a motion for a two-year extension, which passed 5-3. 


“We don’t really have a firm decision on this, sounds like,” said board chairman Dickie Roberts. 


Officials at the meeting were unsure of how many votes were necessary to pass the contract extension. While board members went on with the rest of the agenda, a check of board policy by central office personnel showed the expected two-thirds majority (seven votes for Clay County) required to appoint a director. 


Roberts mentioned at the meeting the matter could be revisited in January.