Freeman signs superintendent contract with Sylacauga BOE
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – Dr. Michael Todd Freeman signed a three-year superintendent contract with the City Board of Education at a meeting Thursday night.

The board unanimously approved the contract, with board member Steve Marlowe saying Freeman was easy to work with on what resulted in a “mutually beneficial” agreement.

Retiring Superintendent Renee Riggins congratulated Freeman and commended the BOE for its selection.

“It has been indeed a pleasure to meet Dr. Freeman,” she said. “We have had several meetings, and I think they have been very productive. You made a great choice, and I am very pleased, because I still have a vested interest in this city and this school system.”

Presently principal at Auburn High School, Freeman will take over his new position July 1. The contract ends June 30, 2016, with an automatic one-year extension each subsequent year, unless the board votes not to extend the agreement.

Freeman will be paid an annual salary of $125,000. He is entitled to all state-mandated pay increases during his contract, and the BOE and superintendent may also agree to increase his salary in the form of a written amendment to the present document, the contract states.

In addition to other benefits, the BOE agrees to provide Freeman with: a personal cell phone; 15 annual paid vacation days; a $200 per month automobile allowance; a one-time payment of $6,000 for moving expenses; interim living expenses not to exceed $1,500 per month for up to six months; and reimbursement for travel and other fees related to school business and professional development. The board will also pay for his membership in five pre-set state and national school associations as well as the Sylacauga Rotary Club and one civic club of Freeman’s choosing.

According to the contract, Freeman will obtain an annual medical exam and, should the physician determine he is not able to perform his duties, will provide the board president with a confidential report. He will also set an annual performance evaluation and will present his goals for the next school year within 60 days of said evaluation.

As for professional liability, the board “agrees that it shall defend, hold harmless, and indemnify the Superintendent from any and all demands, claims, suits, actions, and legal proceedings, excluding criminal litigation, brought against Superintendent in his individual capacity or in his official capacity as agent and employee of the Board, provided the incident giving rise to such matter arose while the Superintendent was acting within the line and scope of his employment, except that, in no case, will individual Board members be considered personally liable for indemnifying Superintendent against such demands, claims, suits, actions and legal proceedings.”

The board may discharge Freeman for cause but not for political or personal reasons. In this case, “cause” means “incompetency, immorality, misconduct in office or otherwise where such misconduct results in substantial detriment to the Board or the Superintendent’s ability to serve as chief executive officer of the system, neglect of duty, or a conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.”

The contract may be terminated by a mutual agreement of the parties, retirement of the superintendent from public education, disability or death. The board may unilaterally terminate it without cause by paying the superintendent the salary he would have received for the contract’s length, excluding benefits. Freeman may also unilaterally terminate his contract by providing 180 days written notice and reimbursing the board 20 percent of the annual base salary.

Freeman has been an educator in Auburn City Schools for 20 years. During that time, he was employed as a principal, director of operations and services, teacher and coach.

His education includes a doctorate in administrative leadership from Valdosta State University, “A” certification in administrative leadership from Troy University Phenix City, a master’s degree in social science education from Auburn University and a bachelor’s degree in social science education from Jacksonville State University.

After Thursday’s meeting, Freeman said he has visited each of Sylacauga’s four schools and had the opportunity to meet some of the administration, teachers and support staff. He said he will use the next month to get up to speed on happenings in the system before taking over the job full-time, though he has already determined some priorities.

“My priorities are the board’s priorities, and a lot of that is construction and the accreditation recommendations made to the board during the spring,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the BOE recognized outgoing board member Tracey Allen. Board President Jennie McGhee presented Allen a gift and said they have appreciated her time and dedication.

Allen said being on the board “has been one huge honor and privilege, and its kind of bittersweet. I won’t miss the phone calls and the staying up at night crying about a decision we have to make, but I will miss the rewards that we get to see. And I will say, (the BOE members put) in so much time really worrying about the decisions they make, so support them, let them know you’re there. Thank you again for the honor.”

In other business the board:

• Approved the: resignation of head basketball coach, history teacher and assistant volleyball coach Josh Golden, effective May 30; transfer of fourth-grade teacher Robin Justice to first-grade teacher at Indian Valley; employment of high school Spanish teacher Ardis Snow, special education itinerant instructional assistant Deanna Hutton, and middle school family and consumer science teacher Kristen Jordan.

• Approved a $66,100 bid from Thrash’s Floors and More for floor replacements at Indian Valley and Pinecrest elementary schools.

• Held a work session to discuss potential construction budget shortfalls and options.

The next regular BOE meeting is June 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the Central Office.

Contract Emily Adams at

© 2013