After a surprise motion by Trustee Jeff Annis at Thursday's Richmond County School Board meeting, the board decided to extend Superintendent Charles Larke's contract by another year.
"There have been a lot of positive changes, and Richmond County schools are finally trending in the direction we'd like them to be trending in," Mr. Annis said before his motion. He then thanked Dr. Larke for his service and moved that his contract be extended.
The motion passed with one dissenting vote -- District 6 Trustee Barbara Padgett.
"The votes were counted before it was brought to the table," said Mrs. Padgett later, adding that she didn't have a problem with Dr. Larke, just the way the vote was taken. "It was talked about and discussed with other board members, but not me."
"Did you ask him if he wanted it?" asked Trustee Cherie Foster after the vote had been taken.
"You've got me as long as you want me," Dr. Larke responded.
Also at Thursday's meeting, school trustees decided the fate of a controversial oak tree in front of Lake Forest Elementary School. They gave unanimous approval to a request from Augusta State University's Fine Arts Department to donate the tree to the school for use in sculpture classes.
The tree has been a source of controversy because it stands in the way of a planned expansion. Some board members wanted to save it because of its age.
The school board also unanimously approved a request from Glenn Hills Middle School to name its gymnasium the Michael D. Stephenson Gymnasium, in honor of their slain school police officer. Officer Stephenson was killed in the line of duty last summer after answering a burglary call at Jamestown Elementary School.
The request came from the school's student council president Travis Brooks, who wrote a letter to Dr. Larke expressing how important Officer Stephenson had been to pupils there.