By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Starkville School District Board of Trustees voted to employ incoming Superintendent Lewis Holloway as a consultant for the days he works before his contract officially begins on July 1.
Holloway has plans to be in the district for three days in early April and has also discussed moving to the district to begin work some time in June. The board would not be able to pay him a daily rate or any of his out-of-pocket expenses until he was an employee.
Although the measure was approved by a three-to-two vote, board member Eric Heiselt spoke out against the idea. His main argument was Holloway would be taking paid leave from his district in Bulloch County, Ga., to visit SSD. Board member Lee Brand agreed, calling it “double-dipping.”
“I have a real ethical issue with that. I appreciate his willingness to come and start the transition, but based on the salary that we’ve already signed, I think that is where the money is. I just have a hard time when we have a lot of other pressing issues,” Heiselt said.
Holloway’s daily rate will be approximately $730 a day, which was factored by dividing his base salary of $175,000 by 240 days. The district will also cover any other expenses, such as lodging or gas.
“He could show up for 30 days, and you’re willing to pay his daily rate for 30 days while we’re paying our interim superintendent as well — you’re double hitting a single salary,” Heiselt said after board voted but did not put a cap on how many days Holloway could work. “So, nowhere else in the district do we pay someone to start their job ahead of their hire date, except for our superintendent based on the vote that just happened.”
This isn’t the first time the district has hired a superintendent on a consultant before their contract began. Board Attorney Dolton McAlpin said SSD hired former superintendent Phillip Burchfield before his official hire date.
In other news, the board voted to keep Keith Coble and Eddie Myles as its president and vice president. Heiselt was named secretary, while Brand was named assistant secretary. The board also swore in new member Jenny Turner.
The board also voted to direct McAlpin to draft a long-term lease agreement with the Starkville Parks and Recreation Commission for an area of J.L. King Park that was recently discovered to be owned by the school district.
A 14.63 acre area in the park, which includes a baseball field, a track and a football field, used to be used by Henderson High School before integration. The city has maintained and invested in the property over the decades, but the district still technically owns the property.