Students starting school this year will be seeing a new face as the Madison County Board of Education selected a superintendent in Thursday's special called meeting.
The new superintendent, David Gilliam, will take over interim superintendent Randy Neeley's position effective immediately. Neeley was named interim on July 1, after former superintendent Elmer Thomas announced his resignation in March. A screening committee comprised of eight members -- one representing the school board, two teachers, one principal, one classified employee and two parents -- worked with the Kentucky School Boards Association to find a replacement that embodied just the right principles and vision for Madison County.
During the meeting, as the board voted to approve Gilliam, only one member said nay, Mary Renfro. Renfro explained her nay vote, taking issue with Gilliam's four-year contract. Gilliam's salary will be $132,900 with a $400 mileage stipend, and a 12.85 Kentucky Teachers Retirement System reimbursement, which is standard for incoming superintendents. Gilliam also asked for a $5,092 increase starting his second year, which Renfro said was her biggest concern, but the increase is considered a 'step-increase' based on experience.
"I do like you. I'm sure you'll do a wonderful job but it's just too much money for the county to handle," Renfro said.
Renfro also voted nay when Thomas was introduced as superintendent in 2013 and given a $143,000 compensation package, according to a previous Register report. Beth Brock, board chair, said during the meeting that all superintendents salaries are public record and anyone can look them up and compare what others are making, but that the contract awarded to Gilliam is something they have taken a serious look at.
"As a board, we have met and discussed, and spent many, many hours on this contract, along with our legal council. We feel strongly, very strongly, that this is a very fair contract," Brock said. "They represent our county's school system as our chief executive officer. That means that person is in charge of 2,200 employees, 12,000 students on a daily basis."
Gilliam is a lifelong resident of Madison County, having attended high school at Madison Central, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Education in 1991 from Eastern Kentucky University, where he is currently pursuing a doctorate degree.
He first got his foot in the door as an educator in 1992 as a teacher and coach at Madison Southern High School until 2003. Gilliam went on to serve as an athletic director from 2003 to 2007 before moving on to principal from 2007 to 2013. In 2013, Gilliam moved to the central office to serve as chief academic office and assistant superintendent.
A loving father and husband, Gilliam's family shares in his passion for education. His wife, Dawna, is a secretary at Madison Southern High School, his son Benjamin is a student at the University of Kentucky and his daughter Rebekah is a senior at Madison Southern.
In other business:
• The school board approved the purchase of playground equipment with the price tag of $88,000 for the new Boonesborough Elementary School. Interim Superintendent Neeley said while the price was high, they were able to receive a discount for purchasing equipment in bulk. The equipment will be installed by the company, and maintained through them should anything happen to it.
• Tony Thomas, architect for Clotfelter-Samokar, gave the school board an update on two construction projects. The Berea bus garage has seen progress since the last meeting, but due to recent rainy weather, has delayed more work. Thomas also assured board members that the new Boonesborough Elementary School would be ready for students on Aug. 22. Carpet has been laid, furniture has started arriving and the gym floor has been laid down. Thomas said the landscaping and laying of concrete has been delayed due to weather and timing, but students, parents and staff should see grass and sod on the first day.
• Neeley thanked several departments, including food service, transportation and maintenance as they have been working proactively throughout the summer to ensure a great start to the new school year.
• An update on Blackboard was given by Neeley, who said as of 5 p.m. Thursday, the new system was able to send out emails, texts and phone call alerts.
• The board approved the appointing of Gilliam as Secretary to the Board and authorized him to be placed on Board of Education bank accounts.
Reach Kaitlyn Skovran at 624-6608; follow her on Twitter @kaitlynskovran.