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Positions restored, principals rehired

The McDuffie County Board of Education voted on employee contracts for the 2010-2011 school year Thursday night with good news.

Superintendent Jim LeBrun said they were able to restore more than 30 positions that had been planned to be cut through a Reduction In Force in February. He said they were able to do this because 31 people had vacated their positions through retirement or resignation. The retirement list includes Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Jim Franklin.

The board unanimously approved to offer contracts to all current principals, but swapped schools for two of them. Mr. LeBrun recommended employment of Thomson High School Principal Rudy Falana, McDuffie Achievement Center Principal Cecil Strong, Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School Principal Steve Rhodes, Norris Elementary Principal Nancy Lovelady, Thomson Elementary Principal Anita Cummings, and Maxwell Elementary Principal Donna Bennett.

However, board members split their vote to rehire Dearing Elementary Principal Laura Hughes. The vote passed 4-2, with District 6 representative Dexter Lovins and District 2 representative Bob Smith voting against her contract renewal.

Superintendent LeBrun then made the recommendation to swap Dr. Hughes and Mrs. Lovelady's positions, transferring Dr. Hughes to Norris Elementary School and Mrs. Lovelady to Dearing. No reason was given for the recommendation.

The vote passed 4-2, with Mr. Lovins and Mr. Smith voting "no." In a telephone interview Monday, Mr. Smith and Mr. Lovins said they voted the way they felt was in the best interest of the school system and did not wish to comment any further.

Mrs. Lovelady said she was "shocked" with the news, but had already visited the Dearing campus over the weekend in anticipation of her move.

"After working with only fourth- and fifth-graders for five years, going back to kindergarten through fifth will be a challenge. But, I know I will love it," Mrs. Lovelady said.

Dr. Hughes was unavailable for comment because of a death in her family.

Dr. Rhodes' contract was offered with the understanding that, earlier in the week, he had been approved by the Columbia County Board of Education to become principal of Lakeside High School. There is no word yet on which school system he will accept.

Thomson Middle Principal Claude Powell said he is retiring after more than three decades.

For assistant principals, the board unanimously approved renewal of contracts for Dearing Elementary's Suzanne Arrington, Maxwell Elementary's Sherrika Brown, Thomson High's Mike Smallwood and Lynn Cato, Thomson-McDuffie Junior High's Neal Tam and Trevor Roberson, Thomson Middle School's LaTasha Johnson, Thomson Elementary's Gwendolyn Nipple and Norris Elementary's Angie Rogers.

In the Central Office, the board approved Federal Programs Director Mychele Rhodes, Technology Director Bob Weems, Department of Student Services Director Debbie Price and Business Department Comptroller Tom Smalley.

Web posted on Thursday, May 20, 2010

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