Pike County BOE: Coach can’t resign

Published 9:50 pm Monday, March 21, 2011

The Pike County Board of Education denied the resignation request of Pike County High School head football coach Robert Johnson Monday night.

Dr. Mark Bazzell, superintendent of education, made the recommendation to deny Johnson’s request.

Following the vote of the board, Bazzell recommended the immediate termination of Johnson as PCHS athletic director and head football coach but not of his teaching duties.

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Prior to the recommendation, Bazzell said that he was not happy about Johnson’s resignation for several reasons. Johnson said last week that he resigned to take a job at Tuscaloosa Academy. He began work there on Monday.

“First, I heard about it on voice mail,” he said. “And, when we look to fill positions of leadership, we spend a lot of time doing so. We do not take it lightly, neither the application, the structured interview nor the personal interview. We take the applicant to dinner. We visit with the family. We talk about commitment, continuity and stability.

“We worked to provide Coach Johnson with all of the needs. We let him bring in as many assistants as we could accommodate. Everything that he asked for, we supplied.”

Bazzell said in recent weeks, he met twice with Johnson about the program at PCHS and, at no time, did Johnson give any indication that he would not be back as the head football coach at PCHS.

John Cooper, an assistant to Johnson, was named the interim head coach.

Dr. Mike Hall, PCHS principal, said that as a result of the board’s action, Johnson is still a teacher at Pike County High School.

However, Hall said Johnson was not at the school Thursday, Friday or Monday.

The superintendent’s PEPE (Professional Education Performance Evaluation) was presented to the board by Dr. John Osburn.

Osburn told the board that when a superintendent has been through more than one evaluation process, the emphasis of that evaluation comes from the board of education and the staff.

“All superintendents do well on the interview and portfolio portions of the evaluation,” he said. The six board members responded to 58 questions and the staff to 35. Bazzell’s mean score was 3.9 on a 4.0 scale.

“Dr. Bazzell’s mean score went up and I’ve done 100 of these evaluations and, in 10 years, I have had only one other superintendent whose mean score went up in later evaluations,” Osburn said. “Usually, by that time the honeymoon is over. Dr. Bazzell’s score speaks volumes about his leadership ability.”

Bazzell expressed appreciation to the board and to the administrative staff for their support and loyalty.

“I don’t say thank you enough,” he said. “That’s a weakness of mine but I do thank you and appreciate all that you do. I could not have a better board than I have and the key to our working relationship is communication.”

Bazzell told the board that preliminary FY2011 Foundation 3 percent proration hit hard but the school system remains on sound footing thanks to its $2 million reserve.

“What the 3 percent proration will cost us is $362,309,” he said. “But we are still in good shape. A lot of school systems are already having to borrow money to finish out the school year and, by the end of the year, as many at 35 to 40 schools systems could have to borrow.”

Bazzell said hopes had been that the school systems’ reserve could have grown to $2.8 million but proration has put a dent in the hope.

“But, we’re still on track for about half of that growth,” he said. However, he added that it remains to be seen what effect that the rising gas prices will have on the budget when the buses run a 7,000-mile a week route and get about four miles per gallon.

In other action, the board approved a re-roofing project at Troy-Pike Center for Technology. The cost will be split with Troy City Schools.

The board gave its approval for Brooke Terry, Sara Wilson, Deborah Sessions and Aretha Jackson to attend the School Nutrition Association’s National conference in Nashville July 9-13. All expenses will be paid by the Child Nutrition Program.

The board approved a request for the Educational Talent Search program at Goshen High School to take 48 juniors and seniors on an annual trip to Gulf World in Panama City on May 5. The trip will be fully funded by Trenholm State Technical College. Approval was also given for 10 Goshen High School JROTC cadets to attend JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge June 6-11 in Anniston. Transportation will be at no cost to the Pike County School District.

In personnel action, the board approved the retirement of Karen Adams from Banks School effective June 1 and accepted the resignation of Shawn Bray.

as maintenance team leader, effective April 1.

The board approved the hiring of Otis Scott as a fulltime bus driver.

Tony Jones and Marion Hughes were granted catastrophic leave and the borrowing of 11 days each from the sick leave bank.